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Protecting Patient Data Through Strict Access Rights Management

Level 13

The healthcare ecosystem is complex, and the diversity of the different departments and devices results in a multifaceted IT infrastructure that can be hard to manage. With increasing digitization, healthcare institutions are also at increased risk of becoming victims of viruses, Trojans, and myriad other cyberattacks. The goal is usually to access the confidential data in the patient file for either financial purposes or malicious intent or damage the critical infrastructure itself.

To protect personal data and master the requirements arising from data protection laws and regulations such as GDPR, reliable and central administration of access rights is necessary. In addition, automated reports and alarms help comply with laws and regulations and create a uniform information and data basis.

Here are four simple steps healthcare administrators can follow to keep track of their organizations through a controlled assignment of access rights.

Name Data Owners

A solution for a clearer administration of access rights is the data owner concept: the administrator delegates the department-specific allocation of data usage rights to the department management. A central access rights management system (ARM) creates the necessary transparency and makes it possible to keep a better eye on compliance guidelines.

It’s important for administrators to train data owners in the assignment of rights. The transfer of know-how and awareness of access rights management helps departments and the entire organization in the long term increase their efficiency and optimize processes.

Keeping an Eye on the Employee Lifecycle

Inadequate management of a user’s rights—from recruitment to termination—poses security risks and major IT challenges. Examples include unused accounts with standard passwords or employees moving to another area, collecting access rights, and causing problems in the area of separation of functions or in the sensitive area of access protection.

Additionally, user accounts of employees who have left a facility but whose user IDs haven’t been disabled provide potential entry points for bots and hackers. The automated synchronization of the most important employee data and access rights in all systems through authorization management is crucial to standardize the data situation at every interface of the network.

Use Templates for Automation

Create templates for rights assignment and data usage, accounting for the “lowest common denominator” principle. This saves valuable time when integrating new employees. If position or tasks change over time, the administrator or data owner can assign new rights or withdraw old ones. This reduces error rates, which can occur when accounts of former employees are manually deleted—as mentioned earlier, these are potentially attractive for bots and hackers.

Ensure More Transparency

If access rights are clearly defined and standardized work steps for verification, analysis, and testing are fully documented, anomalies can be easily analyzed, checked, and eliminated. The advantages of fast handling, reduced workload, and time savings help the IT department and other departments.

Insufficient access management can cause enormous damage to healthcare organizations. Particularly considering their own employees may pose the highest risk factor for IT security, healthcare institutions and organizations should not only pursue stringent and effective authorization management because of the laws, but also because it makes sense and helps them work better.

Find the full article on Open Access Government.

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