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Eastern Health Takes on Massive Single Sign-On Initiative with Forward Advantage

Eastern Health



Eastern Health is the largest integrated health organization in Newfoundland and Labrador and is the tertiary teaching health system for its province. It operates out of 78 sites extending west from St. John’s to Port Blandford, and it includes all communities on the Avalon, Burin, and Bonavista Peninsulas. With an annual budget of approximately 1.4 billion, Eastern Health employs more than 750 physicians and 13,000 employees. It also utilizes more than 200 different IT systems, including: MEDITECH MAGIC, General Electric’s PACS, T-DOC, Lincor, and Optum Clinical Solution’s OR Manager. Clinicians and staff use these and other applications across 6,500 desktop access devices, 700 mobile access devices, and 1,400 multi-function print devices.

Their Challenge: Access Management and Security

With such a large number of clinicians and staff using a wide variety of clinical applications, password management quickly became a key issue at Eastern Health. Busy clinicians are continually in and out of workstations during a shift, and lengthy log-on processes take up valuable time that could otherwise be spent with patients. Compounding this issue, clinicians are typically tasked with remembering multiple, complex passwords. This creates a security risk, because passwords are often written down and left in nondiscrete locations. “Our password policy was a top complaint from administrative and clinical staff, even our IT staff,” says Ron Johnson, Chief Technology Officer at Eastern Health. “It can be quite a challenge to remember multiple passwords that are all mixed characters and numbers, especially when you factor in the change frequency.”

The Solution: Single Sign-On with Badge Readers

Eastern Health is currently in the pilot phase of a project with Forward Advantage to implement Imprivata OneSign® single sign-on solution across its 78 sites. With single sign-on, clinicians at Eastern Health will be able to access any application with the tap of a badge and a single password. After the password has been entered, users are given a two-hour grace period to log in and out with just their badge. “Our clinical people are so excited about single sign-on that they applauded it at a meeting I was in recently,” continues Johnson.

“The solution has already cut down on the amount of calls to our Help Desk for password resets and has made it a lot easier to correct any issues.”

As a VMWare Professional Solution Provider, Forward Advantage has ample experience virtualizing single sign-on for healthcare organizations. Although Eastern Health is currently using thick clients for its single sign-on deployment, it is exploring a virtual desktop infrastructure (VDI) for future roaming capabilities. This would further improve clinician workflow by allowing them to suspend a session on one workstation and pick up exactly where they left off on another. Without having to log out of MEDITECH, a clinician would tap their badge to lock their workstation. They would then re-tap their badge in a patient room to automatically view the same screen from the previous station.

Why Imprivata and Forward Advantage?

When compared to its competitors, Imprivata’s strong reference sites and its user-friendly, easy-to-learn setup were all key selection points for Eastern Health. As an authorized reseller of OneSign, Forward Advantage was an added bonus because of its extensive experience implementing single sign-on in more than 200 MEDITECH hospital environments. “Working with Forward Advantage has been extremely pleasant, and they are very knowledgeable about both Imprivata and the MEDITECH environment,” continues Keough. “Based on our experience thus far, we are confident in moving forward with future deployments. Our clinicians have been pushing for this type of solution for some time.”

“Eastern Health has established clear objectives to enhance system access for the clinician and to increase technology adoption,” says Mike Knebel, Vice President of Sales at Forward Advantage. “In an organization the size of Eastern Health, the benefits to their physicians and the care delivery process could be substantial. We appreciate the opportunity to participate in this change, and we look forward to tracking their progress.”

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