Single EHR Sign-Ons Could Save Each Hospital $2 Million a Year: Ponemon

Each hospital loses an average $2 million a year in efficiency when complex log-in procedures slow or prevent access to electronic health record systems, according to a new report by the Ponemon Institute.

The Ponemon Institute, a research firm that advises organizations on data security and privacy, has released a report revealing that each hospital loses an average $2 million a year in productivity when clinicians can't access electronic health records (EHRs).
Imprivata, an SSO (single sign-on) and access-management provider, sponsored the report.
For the survey "How Single Sign-On Is Changing Healthcare," the Ponemon Institute interviewed 400 health care IT workers and clinicians. Two-thirds of the hospitals surveyed had 200 beds or more.
SSO could help increase this efficiency and improve quality of care, according to the report. In fact, 31 percent of respondents directly observed efficiency improvements from SSO.
"It seems that this particular technology, single sign-on, if deployed correctly across the enterprise-and that's the key-becomes an efficiency issue improvement but also security is improved as well," Dr. Larry Ponemon, chairman and founder of the Ponemon Institute, told eWEEK.
The study was designed to examine the economic impact of failure to log in to essential medical records. The basis for the $2 million of annual lost productivity time was a $135,000 annual salary, despite the different earnings among physicians, nurses and
clinicians, Ponemon said.
"About $2,675 dollars in cost savings for each clinician, so that's how we got the huge number," he said.
Without SSO, users have an average of 6.4 passwords, according to the report released on June 1. An overabundance of passwords and log-ins lead to lost productivity and delays in patient treatment in emergency care settings. Forgotten passwords also put a strain on IT help desks, Ponemon noted. In fact, 93 percent of respondents said SSO reduces help desk calls.
In the survey, 83 percent of respondents said SSO simplifies access to applications and data, and about 70 percent of participants thought SSO was important or very important to adoption of EHRs and related systems.
"There's recognition that having single sign-on effectively implemented in the organization is really efficient," Ponemon said. "It leads to time savings for both clinicians and IT practitioners, and if you basically measure the productivity gain, it's pretty substantial for hospitals that are deploying this."
A total of 36 percent of respondents used SSO to manage 11 to 30 applications, and 6 percent used SSO to manage 200 apps or more.
"Without single sign-on, there would be a lot of time to enter a password, to do what they had to do to get to these applications, which created an inefficiency for the average practitioners," Ponemon said. "We move from a world from six to seven passwords to basically one point of identification and authentication, and that makes a big difference."
In addition to Imprivata, the Ponemon Institute looked at SSO services by companies such as IBM, Microsoft and Novell.
Of the respondents who employed SSO applications, 19 percent used Microsoft Sentillion Vengence, 16 percent used Imprivata OneSign and 15 percent used IBM Tivoli Access Manager Encentuate.
"This survey validates what Imprivata health care customers have known for years: Single sign-on and authentication make it easy and secure for physicians to access EMR applications," Omar Hussain, Imprivata's president and CEO, said in a statement. "The Ponemon Institute's findings directly correlate these benefits to a significant financial impact and cost savings."
Various factors work to make one password secure, according to Ponemon. "There are different things happening that make sure that that one point, the one place you enter, is validated against a whole bunch of visible indicators and that actually leads to greater security," he said.
The development of EHRs, along with requirements to comply with HIPAA privacy rules, create a demand for increased efficiency in health care, Ponemon suggested.