Digital identity is not just a component of healthcare’s digital transformation, but a cornerstone of it, chief medical officer at Imprivata, Dr Sean Kelly, exclusively told Digital Health News.

When it comes to connecting care systems and digital transformation in healthcare, “digital identity is the key and the glue to it all,” said Kelly, who is also SVP of customer strategy for healthcare at Imprivata.

He explained that although “digital transformation is extremely important”, it is vital to “understand the workflows properly, engage with clinical informatics teams and operational leadership so that IT is really serving those workflows properly and both provide the security but also take as much friction out rather than putting more friction into those workflows”.

Disparate identity management solutions can put a healthcare organisation at risk. Imprivata’s digital identity platform, available on Microsoft Azure since 2021 to help get more customers on the cloud, eliminates the multi-vendor, DIY approach with interoperable technologies that drive operational efficiency, security and compliance.

“The whole idea of Imprivata is to satisfy both clinicians and end users, but also IT and security,” Kelly explained. “We think that the traditional paradigm of forcing healthcare systems to choose between privacy, security and compliance on the one hand, versus efficiency, productivity and usability on the other, is broken.”

He added: “Healthcare and other industries deserve more of both, and any good security system actually makes it easier for end users to use it so that users don’t work around it. The whole idea is to put a locked front door on every digital endpoint out there. Imprivata’s foundational technology is single sign-on and authentication management across traditional endpoints.”

Importance of a solid cyber security strategy

Kelly believes it is “essential” that all healthcare organisations have a solid cyber security strategy and preparation in place because “it’s the thing that protects us all from downtime… cyber security is patient safety and vice versa”.

He highlighted three pillars of cyber security: people, process and technology. There should be sufficient funding for cyber security experts, Kelly claimed, and in terms of legislation, “we need to make sure that we’re standardising what the requirements are and making it really transparent, and then mapping to that”.

“Everything we do should map to how does this satisfy this part of the legislation and what does it mean, and how does it link with other partner technologies or other initiatives that are going on. Again, we think digital identity is at the key to all of this,” Kelly told Digital Health News.

Kelly is in favour of the ‘zero-trust approach’ to security where providers and patients are logging on remotely and care at home is taking place.

He concluded that one of the most important things to achieve a better future for healthcare in the UK is to coordinate and manage digital identities in a federated or national fashion, confirming Imprivata’s commitment to “go where the future is”.