Safeguarding the security of patient identities is a very important issue in healthcare today. It is imperative that security is made a priority by anyone in the healthcare continuum who has access to identifiable patient information.
I have compiled five key learnings that can help keep patient identity data safe and secure.
Increase access to care without compromising privacy
Tools such as online patient portals and telemedicine offer excellent opportunities for increasing access to care, improving patient satisfaction levels and reducing delivery costs. For those reasons, today’s healthcare providers are moving toward a fully digital healthcare delivery system. When achieved, it will encompass:
- Patient portals
- Electronic medical records (EMRs)
- Multi-provider data exchange
Although the potential benefits are significant, some patients and providers are concerned about the risk and privacy implications of digital healthcare.
Authenticate patient and care team identities
At the heart of the privacy issue is ensuring that those who access protected health information are who they claim to be. As digital healthcare evolves, providers must ramp up their patient identity management systems.
Patients and anyone on the care team—including physicians, nurses and office staff—need to be authenticated before they’re given access. That authentication process must be in place both at the provider location and online. Remote authentication is crucial to increasing use of services like patient portals and telemedicine.
Gather data at enrollment
When patients enroll for an online portal, call a nurse hotline, or use a mobile application to communicate with a care team, they should be taken through an identity verification and authentication process that accomplishes three things:
- Collects demographic data
- Validates that the presented data is correct and current
- Validates that the person presenting the data also owns the identity information being presented
An intuitive, self-registration process helps patients gain the desired access in a highly secure way from the comfort of their own home.
Authenticate identity during subsequent sessions
Granting initial access to remote patients or providers is one thing, but facilitating simple repeat access management is equally important. Multi-factor authentication (MFA), using two or more aspects of the enrolled user’s identity, confirms that the person requesting access is indeed the enrolled user.
For each patient and type of transaction, your ideal identity management solution should determine, in real time, what your organization needs to know to complete the request.
With a flexible, multi-factor authentication program, you can appropriately manage the different types of transactions that occur at various points in patient lifecycles.
Lower barriers to use
Research shows that a well-outfitted portal offering online patient registration, appointment scheduling, prescription refills, lab results and provider consultation will ultimately:
- Reduce costs – Lower expenses related to care delivery and administration.
- Improve engagement – Encourage patient adherence to therapies and physician guidance.
- Increase access to care – Lead to better outcomes through earlier intervention.
In fact, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Quality Payment Program (QPP), MACRA, is incorporating incentives for improved patient outreach as a result of improved information availability to patients.
But even the most functional EMR and patient portals won’t live up to expectations unless barriers to use are lowered. Forward-thinking enterprises understand that proven strategies for identity management can increase widespread use, foster patient satisfaction, enable secure and convenient patient access, and facilitate a more efficient healthcare delivery system.
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