Identity Governance & Administration in Healthcare

    January 2021 | Lee Howard, VP of Client Services

    Expert Insights, Identity & Access Management

    What It Is, Why It's Important, and What You Should Consider...

    Identity governance and administration (IGA) is a key buzzword in healthcare these days and for good reason. Hospitals and healthcare organizations face an unprecedented increase in data breaches, risking their reputations, audit failures and steep penalties. Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic brought additional challenges, including remote staff and the need to prepare for unexpected hiring surges by ensuring new hires have fast, secure access to role-based data and applications from day one.

    As we work with hospital IT leadership, we continue to hear growing concerns and challenges around identity management, which is why Forward Advantage offers IGA solutions and services to help our customers. Below I’ll cover some essential basics of IGA, why it’s important and tips for selecting a solution.


    What Exactly Is  IGA?

    An increasing number of solutions are falling under the umbrella of identity and access management (IAM) with terms like "identity governance," "identity context," "privileged access management," "privacy," "behavior biometrics," "biometric platforms" and "human-centric security" – and it’s not slowing down.

    IGA helps to centralize identity management at an enterprise-wide level so you’re creating secure digital identities for users, applications and, if needed, data. It enables the right individuals to access the right resources at the right times for the right reasons. Like I mentioned, IGA falls under the greater identity & access management category and is another layer to improve your IAM strategy. It’s not a replacement for other solutions like single sign-on but will give you added control and security on top of your existing solutions.

    When implemented correctly, IGA is proven to:IGA Triangle Graphic

    • Strengthen security and lower risks
    • Improve compliance and audit performance
    • Deliver fast, efficient access to business users, empowering them to request access and manage passwords
    • Reduce operational costs by automating access certifications and requests, password management and provisioning
    • Reduce IT staff workload


    Security Breaches are on the Rise and Internal Threats are Most Prevalent

    While a strong security strategy is important to mitigate and stop external threats, internal threats are the most frequent. Additionally, healthcare providers and staff are more mobile than ever – frequently changing locations and roles. Strong internal controls are important and essential to protecting your healthcare organization. In fact, the following statement comes from a recent Gartner press release discussing the effects of the pandemic on healthcare organizations. “Managing access rights for many more remote workers presents new risks such as “privileged user abuse,” which is expected to climb over the next 12 to 24 months according to a Gartner IT executive survey.”


    Tips for Creating an IGA Program

    Healthcare organizations often want to approach IGA as a short-term, technical project. The best approach is to plan for the long-term, to make sure you consider a fully integrated approach that you continue to optimize as it matures, while tackling high-value, clear-vision projects that rapidly provide business value.

    It’s important to recognize that IGA is not one destination or one project, it is a journey or program with risks that are specific to you and your business. Here are some quick tips to help you get started:

      1. Establish a dedicated IAM/IGA team
      2. Identify your most immediate risks and tackle them quickly
      3. Staff appropriately
      4. Know that IGA impacts all departments
      5. Ensure that decision making is cross-departmental



    As you consider which tool is right for your organization, here is a sample of questions to ask:

    IGA Next Steps for blog post - gray & dark blue

    It’s important to find a solution that fits the needs of your facility and start to assess your current environment.

    While this post provides a few core insights into IGA and its place in healthcare, it’s prudent to remember that security and your business are ever evolving. The good news is that realizing short-term value while planning for a long-term strategy is possible when addressing critical priorities for your organization.

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