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Survey Spotlights Need to Secure Patient Information from Unauthorized Access

Posted Aug 19 2010 10:00am

Imprivata ®, Inc., the company that simplifies and secures access to patient information, today announced the results of its third annual online national survey that examines IT trends in healthcare.  The 2010 Healthcare IT Survey polled hospitals across North America for input on securing patient health information, the move to electronic medical records (EMR) and the impact of clinician workflows on patient outcomes.

“More than one year after its passage, hospitals continue to be deeply concerned about their ability to meet deadlines imposed on them by the HITECH Act,” says Barry P. Chaiken, MD, CMO at Imprivata. “Organizations fear security breaches and unauthorized access to patient records, while trying to manage clinical transformation through the deployment of EMR systems to achieve improved care delivery and cost savings.”

Threat of Data Breaches and Negative Public Exposure Breed Real Fear

80 percent of respondents state that securing patient information from unauthorized access and data breaches is a top priority.  In addition, 76 percent claim breach of confidential information or unauthorized access to clinical applications as their greatest security concerns.   Yet, 38 percent still report they cannot track inappropriate access in accordance with the HITECH Act.  Coupled with the fact that 76 percent of respondents are focused on investing in EMRs, this reinforces the need to protect patient health information.

Hospitals desperately want to avoid making data breach headlines or being slapped with fines.  Clearly healthcare organizations are worried about unauthorized access to patient health information, data breaches and meeting HITECH Act disclosure mandates.  Therefore it is imperative that they safeguard patient information while maintaining a simple, yet robust system that helps them simplify compliance reporting and minimize negative public exposure.

Keeping Physicians Happy is all about Workflow and Applications

Securing patient information continues to be critical for healthcare organizations. Patient information lives in applications that physicians and staff rely on each day, and they demand access to this information without disrupting their daily routines or forcing them to alter how they practice medicine.  Despite advances in strong authentication , passwords remain the most popular form of application access security and more than 90 percent of respondents state that passwords and time to access patient data negatively impact physician satisfaction, which has a direct impact on patient care.

Hospitals need to bridge the gap between clinician productivity and IT security.  Understanding clinician workflow and dependence on applications to provide quality patient care, it is imperative that hospitals secure user access without re-engineering established clinician workflows.

The results of the 2010 Healthcare IT Survey demonstrate that hospitals across North America struggle to balance the need to secure patient information with the reality that it is not feasible to change well-established workflows.  The repercussions of data breaches and exposure of patient information are clearly understood, and it is now squarely on healthcare organizations to both provide easy clinician access to patient information and enforce patient privacy – without compromising on either.

The survey polled 600 healthcare IT decision-makers across the U.S. and Canada.  Full results and an executive summary of the 2010 Healthcare IT Survey can be downloaded or requested by email via surveys@imprivata.com .

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