Dark Reading is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.


04:45 AM

ID & Access Management Cures Hospital's Password Pains

Lutheran Medical Center's new automated order-entry app sped up its move to single sign-on

Increased efficiency often comes at a price. Just ask Lutheran Medical Center, which had to move to a single sign-on system after installing a new electronic order-entry application that required it, and exacerbated its existing password confusion and access management problems.

The New York City-based health care provider, which sees 600,000 patients each year and has 4,000 employees, last year switched from a paper-based to an electronic order-entry system for better accuracy and timeliness of data entry as well as for improving the productivity of its physicians. "Few hospitals have electronic order-entry systems installed now, but many are moving in that direction because of the potential benefits they offer," says Steve Art, senior vice president and chief information officer for the health care provider.

But the tradeoff was that it opened up more security challenges for the IT staff, which is charged with ensuring that proper security checks are in place for all new applications. The new order-entry system required the use of a single sign-on system, which could address problems stemming from the sharing of central workstations as well as password confusion -- a move the hospital was planning to make but had not yet begun.

Hospitals, unlike other industries, often require users to share a central workstation: "No one walks into my office and starts using the computer, but it is quite common for many nurses, doctors, and administrators to share a central workstation on a hospital floor," Art says.

In the past, these health care users shared a common password to access a central workstation. "They were all caregivers, so if there was a lab test or something showing, they could all look at it," Art says. But the new order-entry system changed things: A doctor could not sign an order if a nurse was using the central workstation, for instance, and tracking doctors' signatures on their orders became tough to follow.

"When our orders were on paper, it was easy for us to follow the rules requiring doctors' signatures," Art says. "As the orders were automated, they were more difficult to track."

The switch to electronic order entry underscored another problem the hospital had struggled with for some time: password confusion. Once a health care administrator accessed a central workstation, he or she then had to enter a password and ID to access each individual application. A health care provider would work with a lab system, pharmacy system, and an order entry system, so many had at least five different passwords and IDs.

Not only did employees access a handful of different applications, but also, the passwords were routinely changed -- typically every 60- to 90 days. Many employees were frustrated with having to remember their multiple passwords, so the IT department had to find a way to consolidate the number of IDs while still keeping the systems secure.

So at the end of last year, Lutheran Medical Center began searching for an access and identity management system to address its access and password management problems. The company talked to a handful of vendors, including ActivIdentity, Encentuate, Imprivata, Passlogix, and IBM. The hospital selected Encentuate because of its shared-workstation features that let users customize their screens on the central workstations, as well as for its low price, Art says.

The Encentuate end-point identity and access management (IAM) suite was installed in the spring, first in the hospital's IT department. After that, a trial followed in a nursing station on one floor. "When we pulled the [trial] system out, the nurses complained, so we knew we were on the right track," said Art.

Now the IAM system is running in four departments, and it works with all of the hospital's applications. There was a problem, however, getting it to run when Encentuate moved the system to a new release, but Art says the problem was fixed quickly. Lutheran Medical Center expects the new system to be in place for all of its users by the end of the second quarter at the latest.

Have a comment on this story? Please click "Discuss" below. If you'd like to contact Dark Reading's editors directly, send us a message.

  • ActivIdentity Inc.
  • Encentuate Inc.
  • IBM Corp. (NYSE: IBM)
  • Imprivata Inc.
  • Passlogix Inc.

    Comment  | 
    Print  | 
    More Insights
  • Comments
    Newest First  |  Oldest First  |  Threaded View
    US Formally Attributes SolarWinds Attack to Russian Intelligence Agency
    Jai Vijayan, Contributing Writer,  4/15/2021
    Dependency Problems Increase for Open Source Components
    Robert Lemos, Contributing Writer,  4/14/2021
    FBI Operation Remotely Removes Web Shells From Exchange Servers
    Kelly Sheridan, Staff Editor, Dark Reading,  4/14/2021
    Register for Dark Reading Newsletters
    White Papers
    Current Issue
    2021 Top Enterprise IT Trends
    We've identified the key trends that are poised to impact the IT landscape in 2021. Find out why they're important and how they will affect you today!
    Flash Poll
    How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
    How Enterprises are Developing Secure Applications
    Recent breaches of third-party apps are driving many organizations to think harder about the security of their off-the-shelf software as they continue to move left in secure software development practices.
    Twitter Feed
    Dark Reading - Bug Report
    Bug Report
    Enterprise Vulnerabilities
    From DHS/US-CERT's National Vulnerability Database
    PUBLISHED: 2021-04-20
    A vulnerability of Helpcom could allow an unauthenticated attacker to execute arbitrary command. This vulnerability exists due to insufficient authentication validation.
    PUBLISHED: 2021-04-20
    vscode-restructuredtext before 146.0.0 contains an incorrect access control vulnerability, where a crafted project folder could execute arbitrary binaries via crafted workspace configuration.
    PUBLISHED: 2021-04-20
    ** UNSUPPORTED WHEN ASSIGNED ** The AdTran Personal Phone Manager software is vulnerable to an authenticated stored cross-site scripting (XSS) issues. These issues impact at minimum versions 10.8.1 and below but potentially impact later versions as well since they have not previously been disclosed....
    PUBLISHED: 2021-04-20
    ** UNSUPPORTED WHEN ASSIGNED ** The AdTran Personal Phone Manager software is vulnerable to multiple reflected cross-site scripting (XSS) issues. These issues impact at minimum versions 10.8.1 and below but potentially impact later versions as well since they have not previously been disclosed. Only...
    PUBLISHED: 2021-04-20
    ** UNSUPPORTED WHEN ASSIGNED ** AdTran Personal Phone Manager 10.8.1 software is vulnerable to an issue that allows for exfiltration of data over DNS. This could allow for exposed AdTran Personal Phone Manager web servers to be used as DNS redirectors to tunnel arbitrary data over DNS. NOTE: The aff...