Clinicians demand faster access to HIPAA-protected data on the job

August 1, 2007

A significant barrier to the productivity of physicians and other clinicians is gaining access to the information needed to administer patient care. In many cases, the process of granting access to information starts on the day a caregiver is credentialed with the organization and could drag on up to two months.

A significant barrier to the productivity of physicians and other clinicians is gaining access to the information needed to administer patient care. In many cases, the process of granting access to hospital databases and patient information starts on the day a caregiver is credentialed to practice at the healthcare organization, and could last up to two months before complete application access is granted.

When caregivers finally get access to the hospital information system, they often discover that they need access to multiple information systems. Now they must ask for an account on the PACS system and dictation system. It may be weeks before a caregiver finally has access to all the tools needed to properly service patients within the healthcare organization.

Why the provisioning process is so time consuming and why a new user account can not be established on the day the caregiver starts boils down to a simple concept - compliance.

This leads physicians and other clinicians to demand more from the healthcare organizations. "Provide system access on the day I ask." "Figure out what systems I need and just do it, before I get there." "Please reset my password – I need to see my patient's chart now!"

Delays in servicing such requests impact the quality of patient care. The increased demand for faster turnaround and better service is leading medical centers to seek new means to create, monitor and manage system accounts, aside from standard means of manually inputting information.

IT departments nationwide are turning to user provisioning solutions to automate this process. These off-the-shelf software solutions enable healthcare organizations to automatically create, update, suspend and delete user accounts in clinical, administrative and personal productivity applications, resulting in improved compliance with security guidelines, rapid turnaround on provisioning requests, and a greater reduction in IT costs.

Such IT solutions must be customized to meet the needs of healthcare organizations, which support a much more diverse staff with divergent set of needs and are unique in terms of user provisioning needs. In healthcare, private practice physicians often perform services in multiple hospitals. Other medical professionals offer services on a term basis through an agency or staff employment.

While some tools may be common across job functions, access levels are tightly tied to HIPAA security and privacy policies leading to further variation. Each healthcare organization must address the challenge of granting, modifying and revoking patient information system access rights for a highly dynamic staff – a large percentage of which is only temporarily affiliated with the healthcare organization.

With increased demand for more sophisticated clinical systems – combined with the highly varied nature of hospital staff requiring access to various clinical and business systems, with different access parameters in each system, and no single trusted source for identifying and terminating staff accounts – healthcare organizations are looking to healthcare-specific user provisioning solutions to provide relief in the face of a highly complex environment.

The key for a healthcare-specific user provisioning company is to rapidly and consistently provide and administer access rights for user organizations that are in compliance with all stated policies, for a highly skilled workforce in need of specialized tools, and access to myriad applications.

A user provisioning solution can streamline patient care by enabling one less call to the IT help desk and one more patient cared for, on day one of work.

Terry Zysk is vice president, sales operations, for Sentillion and oversees operations of all products in its IT portfolio.