Healthcare Identity Crisis: How CIAM Saves Lives in the Digital Age

 Mifan Careem – Chief Solutions Officer and Head of Healthcare at WSO2

In today’s rapidly evolving healthcare landscape, the shift towards digital services isn’t just about convenience; it’s crucial for effectively maneuvering patient care and saving lives. But it’s easier said than done given the unique challenges healthcare organizations have to deal with in managing patient identification and data access. Moreover, the introduction of new regulations and the demand for sophisticated digital solutions, accelerated by the COVID-19 pandemic, have put further pressure on healthcare organizations to rethink and redefine their approach to digital identity management.

Healthcare organizations have often struggled with traditional systems that encompass outdated authentication processes and interoperability issues, making it difficult to provide seamless digital experiences to patients. For instance, patient identification across multiple networks and facilities poses significant hurdles, leading to treatment delays, compromised patient outcomes, or even critical incidents. Take an instance where healthcare providers transition to new Electronic Health Record (EHR) systems; there’s a risk of patients losing access to their stored information, disrupting automated payments and historical treatment records. On top of that, outdated processes, such as fax-based authorization for laboratory tests, create inefficiencies and frustrate both patients and healthcare professionals.

Adding to the prevalent challenges, patients too have increasingly switched to digital solutions after the pandemic, raising the bar on expectations of seamless access to healthcare services from anywhere, at any time.

Amid these multitude of challenges and patient expectations, healthcare organizations need to find a way to create unified patient profiles across EHR systems, thus enabling personalized care and a better patient experience. To this end, Customer Identity and Access Management (CIAM) has increasingly played a pivotal role in managing the identities of patients, employees, and external organizations within the healthcare ecosystem. CIAM solutions help to seamlessly integrate patient data from various sources, including EHRs, wearable devices, and external applications. This consolidation of data allows healthcare providers to gain a comprehensive view of the patient’s health history, preferences, and treatment plans. Therefore, services can be tailored to individual patient needs which in turn leads to improved patient satisfaction. By providing secure and user-friendly authentication mechanisms, CIAM solutions enable patients to access healthcare services conveniently and efficiently, thereby enhancing patient satisfaction and engagement.

By implementing CIAM strategies, healthcare organizations can streamline access to services, ensure data security, and enhance patient engagement. Apart from creating unified patient profiles, facilitating personalized care delivery and improving treatment outcomes, CIAM solutions also support compliance with regulatory requirements and enable secure data sharing across different stakeholders.

Enhanced patient experiences with the ‘digital patient double’
Some organizations are going a step further to leverage artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) technologies to look at ways of enhancing identity management in healthcare. Adaptive authentication and risk-based access control elevates security while providing a seamless user experience. AI-powered identity verification mechanisms analyze user behavior, device characteristics, and contextual information to assess the risk associated with access requests. This enables healthcare organizations to dynamically adjust authentication requirements, improving security and user experiences while mitigating potential threats. The comprehensive consolidation of data from EHRs, wearable devices, and other sources enables the creation of a ‘digital patient double’ – the next step in enhancing patient experiences leveraging CIAM.

This digital representation allows for personalized care delivery and improved treatment outcomes. By leveraging advanced analytics and AI-driven insights, healthcare providers can identify patterns, predict health risks, and tailor treatment plans to individual patient needs. The digital patient double serves as a valuable tool for enhancing patient engagement, improving care coordination, and driving better health outcomes.

B2C, B2B, and B2E CIAM scenarios address the diverse identity management needs within the healthcare ecosystem. From patient portals to workforce IAM, CIAM solutions streamline access while ensuring compliance with regulatory requirements.

B2C CIAM scenarios, for instance, play a pivotal role in enhancing patient engagement and satisfaction through streamlined access to healthcare services. Patient portals, an essential component of B2C CIAM, serve as digital gateways for individuals to interact with their healthcare providers, access medical records, schedule appointments, and manage prescriptions remotely. Incorporating features like single sign-on (SSO) and multi-factor authentication (MFA) enhances the user experience by minimizing the hassle of multiple logins while fortifying security measures. With SSO, patients can seamlessly navigate between different healthcare platforms with a single set of credentials, while MFA adds an extra layer of protection against unauthorized access, safeguarding sensitive medical information.

Meanwhile, in B2B CIAM, the focus shifts towards facilitating secure collaboration and data exchange between healthcare organizations and their external partners, which may include pharmaceutical companies, insurance providers, research institutions, among others. These collaborations often involve sharing sensitive patient data, research findings, or regulatory information, necessitating robust identity management mechanisms to ensure confidentiality, integrity, and compliance. B2B CIAM solutions establish secure channels for seamless communication and collaboration while enforcing access controls based on predefined roles, permissions, and compliance requirements.

On the other hand, within the internal operations of healthcare organizations, B2E CIAM solutions play a critical role in managing workforce identities and access privileges. By centralizing identity management processes and implementing role-based access controls (RBAC), B2E CIAM solutions ensure that employees have appropriate access privileges based on their roles, responsibilities, and organizational hierarchy. This not only enhances operational efficiency and productivity but also mitigates the risk of insider threats and unauthorized access to sensitive healthcare data.

In navigating healthcare’s digital evolution, CIAM emerges as a critical component for improving patient experiences, enhancing operational efficiency, and achieving better ROI. By embracing CIAM strategies and leveraging emerging technologies, healthcare organizations can stay competitive and deliver superior patient services in an increasingly digital world. From streamlining patient identification processes to enabling personalized care delivery, CIAM plays a pivotal role in shaping the future of healthcare.

About Mifan Careem

Mifan Careem is the Chief Solutions Officer and Head of Healthcare at WSO2. Based in New York, he heads the customer technical interactions at WSO2, leading the global Solutions Architecture team and working closely with customers and internal teams in mapping WSO2 technology to customer domains.