Q & A: Digital Transformation in Healthcare with CEO Gus Malezis

Trends shaping digital transformation in healthcare.

Gus Malezis, CEO, Imprivata
Imprivata Twitter: @Imprivata
Gus Twitter: @malezisg
Gus Linkedin: Gus Malezis

1. What is the state of digital transformation in healthcare and how does it compare to other industries?

Digital transformation and the shift to value-based care are fundamentally reshaping healthcare. Today’s care delivery ecosystem is no longer confined to the four walls of the hospital. The proliferation of cloud-based applications, databases, and mobile devices, as well as an increasingly decentralized workforce, have eroded the once well-defined network perimeter – and all of this benefits the patients and improves and accelerates the delivery of healthcare. Gone are the days when one had to consider and adjust their life & work activities and responsibilities and plan out and schedule a visit to the doctor or hospital. This process – time consuming and disruptive as it can be – is not adding value to the patient, and instead adds process, complexity and time delays that can in fact introduce further complications to the patient by delaying delivery of care. Naturally, this creates some considerations such as security, compliance, and workflow challenges, all of which are indeed manageable.

Healthcare is lagging behind other industries like retail, government services, and banking because we’ve been slow to adopt digital identity. In the financial world, digital identity is already integral to transactions and interactions. The banking industry has for many years used passwords and tokens to provide consumers access to accounts and virtual services.

Yet many healthcare organizations still rely on general-purpose security solutions and point products designed to protect traditional applications and on-prem infrastructure. These disjointed security solutions and practices can introduce security gaps and disrupt the delivery of care. This system forces healthcare professionals to remember distinct user IDs and passwords, or carry multiple security tokens to access different applications, frustrating users and hampering technology adoption. And manually intensive and error-prone administrative processes impair IT agility while adding risk.

To optimize digital transformation investments, healthcare IT and security planners need to find innovative ways to establish digital trust and protect today’s diverse and dynamic IT environments, without impeding workflows or complicating operations. Organizations must create trusted digital identities across a complex network of people, technology, and information. By focusing on a trusted digital identity, healthcare enterprises can optimize processes and technologies to solve these critical security, compliance, and workflow challenges.

2. What are some of the key technologies driving digital transformation forward in the industry?

The most effective technologies respect the clinician’s work – the focus and responsibility for the patient, the clinical workflow and time investment – and are designed to be efficient, return time, be invisible, be intuitive and require little to no training. The latest clinical technology transforms these authentication workflows by replacing passwords with fast, convenient methods such as the tap of a proximity badge, swipe of a fingerprint or smartphone-enabled hands-free authentication.

These advanced solutions integrate with leading EMRs and other clinical applications and systems to give providers a seamless, fast and truly invisible in-process, or even continuous, authentication experience. They also create a robust security and audit trail for all transactions with PHI. This should reassure providers that they won’t get pulled away from their commitment to the patient, or be bogged down in workflows while ensuring appropriate levels of security and compliance. In this way, organizations can improve security and compliance while increasing provider satisfaction and allowing more time for patient care.

3. That raises questions about data privacy. Are healthcare organizations as concerned about privacy and security as they should be?

Absolutely. Security is a major barrier to digital transformation, and it’s a primary concern that continues to hold organizations back. This is because, in a healthcare setting, clinicians are not the only set of users IT must monitor. Business, IT, and other administrative users—as well as contractors and vendors—all have access needs to different applications and information in the modern healthcare enterprise.

In addition to workflow challenges, this presents a formidable IT security hurdle that many organizations are not as concerned about as they should be. Healthcare remains one of the most highly targeted industries for cyber-attacks. A recent report from Beazley Breach Insights showed the healthcare sector accounted for 41 percent of all breaches. And, the cost of data breaches are amongst the highest of any industry – according to the IBM and Ponemon Institute 2019 Cost of a Data Breach Report, healthcare data breach costs average $429 per record (the highest of any industry, for the ninth straight year).

Clearly, healthcare has many more challenges to face than do most other industries, and that vulnerability should translate to concern about privacy and security.

4. What will conversations be centered around a couple years from now?

As an industry, healthcare has traditionally focused on (a) implementing and delivering modern EHR systems for centralized digital patient record keeping, and (b) locking down everything within our networks for the benefit of security and compliance. In the new digital world of anytime anyplace healthcare, it’s time to redesign the IT systems with the new non-perimeter and the broader set of variables – all of which should support the well trusted clinical workflow and enhance care delivery.

Protecting against new cybersecurity risks requires having the right technology in place, starting with an integrated identity, authentication and access management (IAAM) solution. This is the first step for healthcare organizations to strike the necessary, but often elusive, balance between security and clinical workflow efficiency across the evolving healthcare technology landscape.

Digital identity and IAAM now play even a more pivotal role. We need trusted identities. We also need the right infrastructure to support and manage those identities.

5. What comes next after digital transformation?

Healthcare’s rapid transition to a fully digital environment will continue to incorporate sophisticated IT tools to the healthcare delivery continuum and bedside workflows, which will greatly improve the delivery of care. In the course of improving care delivery, however, healthcare will also experience something else: greater complexity.

The “digitally transformed” healthcare delivery ecosystem consists of a much more extensive and expansive population of providers and users, all of whom will increasingly operate from multiple locations. These locations will often be outside the four walls of the hospital, and users will increasingly access systems through an exploding number of devices and applications that, more and more, will reside in the cloud.

This proliferation of…EVERYTHING…will erode the once well-defined network perimeter and the systems and services delivered within that environment. In this new ecosystem, organizations will face the challenge of architecting and building for this scale and establish trusted identities across a complex network of people, technology, and information.

With a focus on trusted digital identity, organizations can optimize processes and technologies to solve the equally critical aspects of security, compliance, and workflow challenges. They can give users secure access to the applications, devices, and information they need, anywhere and anytime they need it.

Listen in as Jim Tate, host of The Tate Chronicles on HealthcareNOW Radio interviews Gus Malezis the President and Chief Executive Officer of Imprivata. Gus is widely recognized as a visionary leader in the information technology security industry where he brings more than 30 years of experience driving innovation and growth while building market leading organizations.