About Health Quest
With a full range of hospital services, pre-hospital emergency care, home care and nursing home care, the Health Quest system provides immediate and caring service to the one million people who reside in the New York counties of Columbia, Dutchess, Ulster, Orange, Putnam and northern Westchester.
At Health Quest, security goes hand in hand with technical innovation. "As an advanced IT organization, we invest in automated security controls in the march toward electronic health records," said David Sheidlower, chief information security officer for Health Quest. "One of our biggest challenges was granting and revoking network and physical access in a timely manner relative to HR events such as new hires and terminations. This process had been performed manually, and there were lag times at every step of the way."
Equally important, the IT department needed to ensure that care givers had swift, yet secure access to the information they need. "Physicians need to access patient information quickly," said Sheidlower. "The thing they should be thinking about is why that person is in the hospital, not worrying about remembering their passwords."
Working with Identropy, a Novell Platinum Partner, Health Quest deployed Novell Identity Manager to automate user provisioning and deprovisioning. The Novell solution now synchronizes more than 6,000 identities across its Lawson HR and Visual Cactus credentialing systems. "Novell Identity Manager is very impressive," said Sheidlower. "We can manage identities on a role-based basis, and easily incorporate additional applications as needed."
In addition, Health Quest worked with Identropy to implement Novell SecureLogin for single sign-on. "We wanted to marry logical access with physical access to achieve two-factor authentication," said Sheidlower. "Using Novell SecureLogin, users have single sign-on to myriad systems, including our physician credentialing, electronic health record and physical badge and proximity card reader systems. Authorized users receive a physical badge with an embedded code that allows them to log into clinical workstations and access electronic patient records as long as they have a password. It's astounding how well this works. Physicians now have a fast, seamless experience."
Novell SecureLogin is also advantageous for Health Quest's shared workstations. "With Novell SecureLogin on our shared workstations, users no longer have to wait for Windows* to load," said Sheidlower. "Our users love this, because it allows them to focus more on patients. We deployed these capabilities in one nursing unit, and within weeks we were getting requests to roll it out to the rest of the facility."
Identropy played a key role in the success of the project. "When you're performing this kind of integration, you need seasoned, experienced people who can analyze what's going on and get to the bottom of issues," said Sheidlower. "Identropy did just that. They brought the expertise to understand how the pieces fit together in this complex project and make it successful."
Health Quest also found Novell a supportive vendor. "We're innovating and so we need vendors who truly partner with us in these endeavors," said Sheidlower. "Novell is a dedicated partner who was there every step of the way. We're not a Fortune 100 company, but Novell treats us like one."
With Novell Identity Manager in place, Health Quest can instantly provision and deprovision users in accordance with HIPAA mandates. "Regulators and patients expect that if someone is no longer working for the hospital their rights will be removed immediately," said Sheidlower. "Now that we've deployed Novell Identity Manager it works just like that. As soon as we have a new hire in the system, their accounts are instantly provisioned. It's the same with account termination. Physical and network access is now disabled in seconds."
Not only has the Novell solution improved security but it has significantly reduced IT costs as well. "Automated user provisioning and deprovisioning takes a tremendous burden off our IT staff, which used to spend an inordinate amount of time creating and disabling accounts," said Sheidlower. "Also, when a physician or staff member calls the help desk, we can quickly reset their password within Novell Identity Manager, improving first call resolution times. That represents a huge savings in service level agreements."
With the Novell identity and security management solution, Health Quest is poised to meet emerging regulations. "With new data security regulations coming out, access management and user provisioning are a high priority," said Sheidlower. "With Novell Identity Manager in place, we've automated provisioning and deprovisioning of user accounts based on pre-defined roles, so it's foolproof from a regulatory perspective."
The single sign-on capabilities have also proved beneficial. "Using Novell SecureLogin, users no longer need to remember multiple passwords or manually synchronize passwords to access a patient's electronic health record," said Sheidlower. "That's made a huge difference."