Although the advice “practice makes perfect” can be beneficial in some aspects of life like music and sports, in others, doing the same thing over and over is not only tiring but also inefficient. Sometimes, when working to accomplish certain tasks, the phrase “one and done” can be the best method. Such is the case for using single sign-on functionality for a health information exchange (HIE).
As defined in the previous post, value-added services assist providers in simplifying the administrative side of healthcare while generating a significant amount of revenue with which to sustain the HIE. An especially integral service, single sign-on functionality and/or authentication provides the ability for an authorized user to enter the same identification and password to log on to multiple applications within an HIE, eliminating the need for the memorization and/or storage of assorted passwords.
Provided at the Web portal to an HIE, a single sign-on server stores multiple passwords in a secure database, making it available to the user transparently during the login process. This value-added service eliminates the often frustrating need for management of multiple passwords and saves time by not having to repeatedly log in and out of applications.
Through use of single sign-on (SSO), an HIE is able to centralize authorization credentials from multiple back-end applications through a portal that uses application definitions. Because the ability to easily and securely access data from any location plays an integral role in maintaining unimpeded workflow and directly impacts the quality of patient care, single sign-on benefits providers as well as the HIE.
In addition to eliminating the need for multiple passwords and saving time for users, single-sign on provides a whole host of benefits for an HIE. Users have a convenient and more efficient way to access the data they need, resulting in increased productivity. Also, by allowing the user to navigate through multiple applications without repeated logins, the possibility of human error is dramatically decreased.
For those who manage an HIE, single sign-on allows them to better monitor, control, protect and update authorization data for increased compliance and security. Through easier management of authorization data, it enables centralized security reporting and auditing for compliance adherence. Single sign-on also provides them with a common authentication framework, improving developer productivity. Access to applications or functions within applications can be restricted when the user is not at work or not on the assigned work location. Plus, through simplified administration, an HIE doesn’t have to spend more time and money retrieving forgotten passwords for users, thereby reducing operational costs.
It is important to note that single sign-on is not the only answer to improved security within an HIE but rather an integral part of the bigger picture. In order for single sign-on to be effective for a sustainable HIE, it must involve comprehensive planning and the correct combination of infrastructure tools. It also needs to be designed correctly to achieve the many benefits it is able to provide. With each of these things in place, single sign-on can provide an invaluable contribution to the success of the HIE.