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1/11/2008
07:18 AM
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A Health Care Provider's SOS for SSO

Single sign-on saves Delano Regional Medical Center from losing patient volume, revenue

Complex security checks were leading to lost revenue at the Delano Regional Medical Center (DRMC) outside of Bakersfield, Calif. Doctors had become so frustrated with the steps for accessing patient data in DRMC’s information systems that some were sending patients to other health care providers rather than using the systems.

“The physicians seemed particularly unwilling to follow the steps required to remotely access our systems,” says Sandy Bakich, director of information systems for DRMC, which has 550 employees. So DRMC last year went to a single sign-on solution to ease data access while maintaining the proper security.

Demographics played a role in the health care provider’s challenge. DRMC is located about 100 miles from Fresno and 30 miles from Bakersfield, and serves mainly rural farming communities at three local clinics. About 100 local doctors treat patients at these sites. The physicians, who work as contractors, are generally older and not comfortable working with computers. As contractors, they can use DRMC’s facilities initially but then refer any follow-ups to DRMC competitors such as nearby Bakersfield Memorial Hospital and Mercy Hospital.

Treating patients at DRMC required doctors to weave through a handful of medical information, patient information, and imaging applications. Not only did they have to remember a handful of different passwords, but the security checks were also constantly changing -- usually every three to six months. Security checks are required by health care providers such as DRMC because federal regulations require that access to patient data be restricted to health care professionals.

DRMC deployed a new Health Information System (HIS), as well as the single sign-on application and a context management system The context management component was important because it would make the health care providers more efficient: Previously, if a physician was working on one application regarding a patient's case and then wanted to viewed an x-ray, for example, he would have to re-enter the patient's information again.

The hospital chose Sentillion's Vergence product because its single sign-on and context management capabilities were integrated. (Other vendors had jury-rigged separate products together.) DRMC installed the new systems last summer, with one hiccup: The health care provider's HIS outsourcing firm at first was unwilling to station the Sentillion hardware and software in their building. Once the issue was resolved, DRMC connected the Sentillion software to Meditech Laboratory administrative system, Dictaphone PowerScribe voice processing radiology front end, GE Centricity independent physician practice software, Cerner clinical and management information systems, as well as various imaging systems.

Now it's simpler for physicians to use the applications. “They have a consistent, easy-to-use interface when they are in the hospital as well as working remotely at their office or home," DRMC's Bakich says. "Consequently, it is more likely now that they will use our services rather than those from our competitors.”

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    Kelly Jackson Higgins is the Executive Editor of Dark Reading. She is an award-winning veteran technology and business journalist with more than two decades of experience in reporting and editing for various publications, including Network Computing, Secure Enterprise ... View Full Bio

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