Meeting HITECH`s Challenge to the Health Care Industry

Meeting HITECH`s Challenge to the Health Care Industry
An Oracle White Paper
October 2011
HITECH’s Challenge to the
Health Care Industry
Oracle White Paper—HITECH’s Challenge to the
Health Care Industry
Introduction ....................................................................................... 3
HITECH Changes the Game ............................................................. 4
The Move to Electronic Health Records (EHR) .............................. 4
Increased Penalties ....................................................................... 4
More Aggressive Oversight ........................................................... 4
Breach notification ......................................................................... 5
HITECH’s Challenge ......................................................................... 6
The Health Care Risk Environment ............................................... 6
Develop a Holistic Security program .............................................. 6
The Security and Compliance Burden ........................................... 7
The Data Protection Challenge ...................................................... 7
The Access Control Challenge ...................................................... 8
Frameworks for Compliance .............................................................. 9
Standards-based Controls ............................................................. 9
Role of Business Associates.......................................................... 9
HITRUST’s Common Security Framework................................... 10
Comprehensive Data Security ......................................................... 13
Defense-in-Depth ........................................................................ 13
How Oracle Protects Patient Information ......................................... 14
Data Encryption and Masking ...................................................... 14
Database Enforced Access Controls ........................................... 15
Monitoring, Alerting and Reporting .............................................. 15
Oracle White Paper—HITECH’s Challenge to the
Health Care Industry
How Oracle Controls Access to Patient Information......................... 16
Implement Centralized Access Control ........................................ 16
Use Role-based Access Control .................................................. 17
Automate User Provisioning ........................................................ 18
Deploy Secure Federation ........................................................... 18
Reduce Risk and Fraud ............................................................... 19
Conclusion ...................................................................................... 19
Legal Disclaimer .............................................................................. 20
Oracle White Paper—HITECH’s Challenge to the
Health Care Industry
The Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health Act (HITECH)
forces health care providers and their business associates to bring a sense of urgency to
the security of protected health information (PHI). The act brings both pressures and
incentives into play in its mandate to convert PHI to electronic health records (EHR), and
puts teeth into the enforcement of the privacy and security rules of the Health Insurance
Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
Although the HIPAA Security and Privacy rules have been in effect since 2003, auditing
has been, at best, spotty, enforcement and imposition of penalties rare, and they did not
apply directly to business associates. Under these conditions, it’s not surprising that
healthcare has lagged behind most other industries in their security programs.
More than one fifth of the respondents in the 2009 survey conducted by the Healthcare
Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) reported that security accounted
for less than 1% of their budget, with almost no change from the previous year. Forrester
Research’s annual security survey showed that healthcare trails financial services, retail
and government sectors in the percentage of overall IT budget spent on security.
Information security has not been a high-priority issue for hospitals, which naturally
evaluate commitment of energy, spending and allocation of resources in terms of their
impact on the quality of patient care. Before HITECH, there were no incentives and little
concern about enforcement.
Conversion to EHR will result in explosive growth in digital information sharing among
health information exchanges, hospitals, medical practices and business associates.
Under HITECH, all recipients of PHI contained in EHR are now subject to the same
requirements for protecting PHI. The risk of inadvertent or malicious disclosure of health
information increases dramatically, and there is evidence that attackers are taking note
and targeting healthcare institutions in growing numbers.
Oracle White Paper—HITECH’s Challenge to the
Health Care Industry
In this environment, healthcare providers should assess their security programs and
ensure that they have the policies, processes and supporting automated tools in place to
protect patient information.
HITECH Changes the Game
The Move to Electronic Health Records (EHR)
The HITECH Act is part of the $787 billion American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA),
more commonly known as the Stimulus Bill, enacted in February 2009. The core purpose of
HITECH is to convert the nation’s health care records to digital formats, improving health care
through the rapid transmission of medical information and ultimately saving money on
operations by making the nation’s health care systems more efficient.
HITECH takes a carrot-and-stick approach to promote the mandated conversion to EHR. The
act provides $19.2 billion to promote the conversion, most of it going to Medicare and Medicaid
reimbursement as incentives to make what the act refers to as “meaningful use” of EHR, starting
in 2011. The stick comes in the form of reduced reimbursement, starting in 2015, for entities
that do not use EHR.
But the really hard end of the stick is how HITECH, recognizing the increased risk of electronic
PHI, ups the ante for healthcare providers and their business associates who fail to meet the
HIPAA Security and Privacy Rules requirements.
Increased Penalties
Previously, penalties could be assessed at $100 per violation, capped at $25,000 per year for
multiple violations of an identical requirement or prohibition. HITECH sets the range at $100
up to $50,000 per violation, capped at $1.5 million per year for multiple violations of an identical
requirement or prohibition.
Moreover, individuals, such as hospital employees, in addition to covered entities, can be held
criminally liable with fines of up to $250,000 and up to 10 years in prison for HIPAA violations.
In addition, if the Department of Justice declines to prosecute, the Department of Health and
Human Services Office of Civil Rights (OCR) can still bring civil suit. A percentage of the civil
penalties collected are distributed to individuals affected by the violations.
More Aggressive Oversight
Beyond any promises of greater oversight and more aggressive enforcement, both federal and
state governments now have incentives to investigate possible violations and file suit when the
Oracle White Paper—HITECH’s Challenge to the
Health Care Industry
evidence is sufficient. Under HITECH, money collected in civil penalties is funneled back into
OCR’s enforcement budget. The act also permits state attorneys general to bring civil actions
against HIPAA violations, making wider oversight and enforcement far more likely. In January,
for example, Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal sued Health Net of Connecticut,
alleging the company violated HIPAA when it lost a portable disk drive containing health and
financial information of about 446,000 enrollees. The action claimed that Health Net did not
properly secure the information and failed to notify consumers of the security breach.
Breach notification
HITECH mandates data breach notification, putting pressure on providers to avoid the costs
and negative public exposure associated with data breaches involving PHI.
The requirement is similar to the 40-plus state data breach notification laws, which cover
exposure of consumer information. These laws typically exempt encrypted information,
assuming that it cannot be read by anyone who obtains possession. HITECH states that breach
notification applies to “unsecured PHI,” defining unsecured as information that has not been
rendered “unreadable, unusable or indecipherable” to unauthorized individuals. In practical
terms, HHS guidance means encrypting the data or destroying it.
The act requires the health care provider to notify the affected individuals of the breach, as well
as the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) if 500 or more patients are affected.
HHS posts these breaches on its Web site. Violators must also notify prominent media if the
breach affects more than 500 people in a particular location.
Business associates, now subject to HIPAA Security Rule requirements, must notify their
covered entity partner if they are responsible for or victim of a PHI breach.
It’s important to note that HITECH does not require encryption (it makes encryption an
“addressable” controls rather than a “required” one). However, as with the state laws,
encryption generally obviates the need for breach notification.
As HHS points out in its guidance, using encryption does not change the Security requirements
to protect PHI. Encryption is only one step in support of a holistic security program that
includes data protection, identity and access management policies, enabled and supported by the
right tools. Today’s health care information environment, involving many disparate
organizations, and many people performing different roles, and communicating in multiple ways,
doesn’t lend itself to a simplistic security solution.
Oracle White Paper—HITECH’s Challenge to the
Health Care Industry
HITECH’s Challenge
The Health Care Risk Environment
The modern healthcare information environment is complex, with information flowing across
numerous interrelated and interdependent institutions, service providers and individuals:
Physicians inside the hospital and at their practices, outsourced diagnostic services, pharmacies,
labs, billing services, business associates, visiting nurses and other home/mobile healthcare
providers, rehab centers, clinics, etc.
Electronic patient information is communicated not only via LAN and WAN but all forms of
wireless devices, from laptops to smart phones to specialized handheld medical information
The challenges are daunting. Covered entities and business partners must consider several
factors, including:
Identifying the information that is considered PHI under statute and carries the risk of harm to
the patient and non-compliance to the organization.
Balancing the need to protect information from exposure while still providing the highest level
of patient care.
Extending information access and policy enforcement beyond the organization to the myriad
of partners, service providers and suppliers that support the health care provider.
Identifying the applications that have access to PHI, validating whether that access is
appropriate, as well as the individuals, groups and organizations authorized to use those
applications, with appropriate limitations.
Develop a Holistic Security program
In this environment, health care providers must think and act in terms of a comprehensive
information security program that incorporates protection around the data to prevent its use by
unauthorized individuals. This includes creating and implementing granular, role-based, access
control, authorization and authentication policies that help ensure that health information is
properly secured and health care providers are compliant.
Health care organizations must:
Identify, classify and assess risk around data.
Implement appropriate protection, such as strong encryption and data masking to prevent
unauthorized exposure and at worst, malicious use.
Oracle White Paper—HITECH’s Challenge to the
Health Care Industry
Assign the appropriate privileged user roles, with careful attention to maintaining separation of
Monitor data access, with particular attention to the activities of privileged users, such as
database administrators.
Establish individual and group roles, evaluating and adapting them as needs change.
Create policies and workflow processes with clear responsibilities and accountability for
provisioning and de-provisioning users, approving job changes, as well as application,
information and systems access authorization.
Implement logging, audit and reporting capabilities around application and data access,
administrative functions; user and asset access activity, provisioning and de-provisioning.
The Security and Compliance Burden
Managing and maintaining this type of program in a dynamic environment is a heavy burden for
health care organizations dedicated to devoting maximum resources and focus on the quality of
patient care. Personnel come and go; patients are discharged; business partner relationships
change; new applications and systems come online, and new services become available.
Oracle database security and identity management products provide a complete single-vendor
defense-in-depth security strategy that can help customers address a broad set of requirements.
Consider the difficulties of translating this into a manageable, efficient security and compliance
The Data Protection Challenge
Retrofitting existing applications with strong data protection can be a time consuming, costly,
and seemingly impossible exercise. After all, most applications running today along with their
supporting infrastructure were built for high availability, scalability and usability. In most cases,
the data security that does exist resides solely in the application layer and consists of a username
and password along with a mapping of users to various roles and responsibilities within the
application, thus limiting access to application screens and functions. Outside the context of the
application, data remains unprotected and vulnerable to application bypass attacks. Information
security in terms of encryption, masking, access control and monitoring remains a relatively
specialized area that only recently has seen technology progress to the point that it can be widely
adopted by those with little to no security background and applied to existing applications
without costly and time-consuming changes.
Take for example data encryption and the associated key management requirements. Encryption
algorithms have been widely available for well over a decade. The ability, however, to apply
encryption technology to practical business problems, as required by HITECH, has been limited.
Oracle White Paper—HITECH’s Challenge to the
Health Care Industry
This was due to the changes, both technical and administrative, required to deploy encryption.
Encryption needs to be transparent to existing applications, non-disruptive to the existing high
availability strategy and be easy to administer in a large, distributed environment. Similarly,
deploying additional access controls on data outside the application layer without breaking the
application was viewed as next to impossible. In fact, access to application data by administrative
personnel operating outside the application has to this point been considered the norm.
Thus far, separation of duty enforcement along with deployment of preventive controls on
access to application data by administrators operating outside the application has been
considered too operationally disruptive. In addition, the increasingly important task of
monitoring audit logs for unauthorized or inappropriate activity has languished due to the time
consuming, resource intensive nature of the task. This is despite numerous examples where such
monitoring would have greatly reduced or even prevented unauthorized disclosure of sensitive
Oracle’s comprehensive database security portfolio, including Oracle Advanced Security, Oracle Data
Masking, Oracle Database Vault and Oracle Audit Vault, protects information by providing
transparent data encryption, masking, privileged user and multi-factor access control, row level
data classification, as well as continuous monitoring of database activity.
The Access Control Challenge
Maintaining an effective access control program is even more challenging, as the health care
provider typically must administer authorization and appropriate authentication on a perapplication basis. It’s impossible to administer and enforce unified policy across applications and
systems; management is fragmented and laborious, policy inconsistently applied and users
Policy-based provisioning and de-provisioning of user access and authorization is:
Fragmented by reliance on each application
Hampered by a lack of an automated workflow to assure that authorization is appropriate and
approved by the responsible managers, who can be held accountable for their action.
Reliant on group-based authorization, which can be too coarse for fine-grained controls,
making provisioning an inexact science that typically leads to too much privilege, which is a
security risk, rather than too little, which impedes work and ultimately, would impact patient
Monitoring user access activity for malicious behavior and policy violations and producing
auditable reports and responding to auditor requests will be manual and error prone, and difficult
to coordinate. Administrators have to collect and query access logs, for example, from diverse
applications, if they are available.
Oracle White Paper—HITECH’s Challenge to the
Health Care Industry
Further, health care providers have to extend special sets of access control rules to numerous
third parties who need to access or share PHI. Assigning and administering access controls
outside the core organization is exceedingly difficult. Great care has to be taken to assure that
the disclosure of PHI is the minimum needed to perform the contracted services, but easy and
manageable enough to allow critical medical information to move without delay.
Oracle Access Manager, Oracle Identity Manager, Oracle Identity Analytics, Oracle Identity Federation and
other products in the suite of Oracle identity management solutions provide application and
system-level security, enabling health care organizations to create and sustain a centrally
managed, automated and auditable access control program.
Frameworks for Compliance
Standards-based Controls
In addition to the specific Privacy and Security controls required by HIPAA/HITECH, it’s
highly recommended that health care organizations look to one or more of the accepted control
standards, such as ISO27002, NIST and COBIT, as the foundation of their HIPAA/HITECH
security and compliance programs. As organizations move to electronic health records, they must
implement required controls around the maintenance and flow of health information. This will
enable organizations to capture HITECH incentive reimbursement, avoid penalties, protect
themselves against the heightened oversight from HHS and state attorneys general and guard
against the damage of a major PHI breach and the negative impact of the required notification.
A standards-based approach:
Provides a well-defined set of controls that can serve as a template to be modified to the
organization’s special requirements as a member of the health care industry.
Provides a yardstick for the organization to measure progress and evaluate its security
Demonstrates to auditors that the organization is following a well-conceived initiative that
follows universally accepted control recommendations.
Forms a common basis for establishing security controls and trust across entities to assure that
PHI is being transmitted and maintained as it is shared across organizations.
Role of Business Associates
The last point emphasizes the need to maintain strong controls as information is shared outside
the provider organization. The HIPAA Security Rule has always required health care providers to
have contracts that direct business associates to safeguard PHI. However, now that HITECH
Oracle White Paper—HITECH’s Challenge to the
Health Care Industry
puts the same security requirements on business associates as for covered entities, those
contracts will need to be modified to reflect these new obligations.
HITECH expanded the definition of a business associate to include organizations that transmit
and routinely access PHI, such as health information exchange organizations, regional health
information organizations and vendors. Previously, business associates were liable only under
the terms of their contracts, but under HITECH, they are subject to direct government oversight
and civil and criminal penalties for HIPAA violations.
HITRUST’s Common Security Framework
The Health Information Trust Alliance (HITRUST) has addressed these issues with a health care
industry-centric approach to standardize security controls and streamline compliance programs.
The Common Security Framework (CSF) incorporates hundreds of IT controls from other
frameworks that are relevant to the health care industry, such as NIST, ISO, COBIT,
The CSF contains 13 security categories encompassing 42 control objectives and 135 control
It is too early to tell if HITRUST will become a widely embraced standard for HIPAA/HITECH
and other regulations that impact the health care industry, but it is well worth considering as the
basis for a security/compliance program and a common ground for meeting contractual
164.308 Administrative safeguards
Conduct an accurate and thorough assessment
Oracle Change Management discovery, asset tracking,
of the potential risks and vulnerabilities to the
change detection, compliance assessments
confidentiality, integrity, and availability of
electronic protected health information held by
the covered entity.
(a)(1)(ii) (D)
Implement procedures to regularly review
Oracle Audit Vault database monitoring and reporting,
records of information system activity, such as
secure repository
audit logs, access reports, and security incident
Oracle Database Vault auditing and reporting on access
tracking reports.
attempts, etc.
Oracle Access Manager user access activity logs and
Oracle Identity Manager user identity information audit
and reports
Implement policies and procedures to ensure
Oracle Database Vault privileged user controls: access
that all members of its workforce have
realms and command rules, separation of duties
appropriate access to electronic protected
Oracle Identity Manager user and user authorization
Oracle White Paper—HITECH’s Challenge to the
Health Care Industry
health information and to prevent those
workforce members who do not have access
Oracle Access Manager automated, centralized access
from obtaining access to electronic protected
health information.
Oracle Identity Analytics role management
Oracle Identity Federation
Implement procedures for the authorization
Oracle Database Vault privileged account authorization,
and/or supervision of workforce members who
separation of duties
work with electronic protected health information
Oracle Access Manager centralized access control and
Oracle Identity Manager user authorization provisioning
Oracle Identity Federation
Implement procedures to determine that the
Oracle Database Vault
access of a workforce member to electronic
Oracle Identity Manager
protected health information is appropriate.
Oracle Identity Analytics
Oracle Access Manager
Oracle Identity Federation
Implement procedures for terminating access to
Oracle Identity Manager automated de-provisioning of
electronic protected health information when the
terminated users, inactive accounts and obsolete
employment of a workforce member ends or as
authorization. “Rogue” account detection
required by determinations made as specified in
Implement policies and procedures for granting
Oracle Database Vault
access to electronic protected health
Oracle Access Manager
information, for example, through access to a
workstation, transaction, program, process, or
Oracle Identity Manager
other mechanism.
Implement policies and procedures that, based
Oracle Database Vault
upon the entity’s access authorization policies,
Oracle Access Manager
establish, document, review, and modify a
user’s right of access to a workstation,
Oracle Identity Manager
transaction, program, or process.
Implement procedures for monitoring log-in
Oracle Audit Vault
attempts and reporting discrepancies.
Oracle Database Vault
Oracle Access Manager
Identify and respond to suspected or known
Oracle Audit Vault monitoring and alerting
security incidents
Oracle Access Manager monitoring and alerting
Oracle Identity Manager rogue account detection
164.312 Technical safeguards
Oracle White Paper—HITECH’s Challenge to the
Health Care Industry
Implement technical policies and procedures for
Oracle Database Vault privileged account management
electronic information systems that maintain
and separation of duties
electronic protected health information to allow
Oracle Access Manager access control, authorization
access only to those persons or software
and authentication
programs that have been granted access rights
Oracle Identity Manager user authorization provisioning
Oracle Identity Analytics role management
Assign a unique name and/or number for
Oracle Database Vault
identifying and tracking user identity.
Oracle Identity Management
Establish (and implement as needed)
Oracle Identity Management facilitates dynamic
procedures for obtaining necessary electronic
provisioning for urgent business needs and de-
protected health information during an
provisioning when the need passes
Implement a mechanism to encrypt and decrypt
Oracle Advanced Security transparent data encryption
electronic protected health information.
(TDE) provides transparent encryption of stored data
and built-in cryptography key management
Audit controls: Implement hardware, software,
Oracle Audit Vault
and/or procedural mechanisms that record and
Oracle Database Vault
examine activity in information systems that
contain or use electronic protected health
Oracle Access Manager
Oracle Identity Manager
Implement policies and procedures to protect
Oracle Database Vault privileged account management
electronic protected health information from
and separation of duties controls access and
improper alteration or destruction.
authorization to PHI
Oracle Access Manager access control, authorization
and authentication
Authentication: Implement procedures to verify
Oracle Database Vault authentication command rules
that a person or entity seeking access to
Oracle Access Manager support for multi-factor
electronic protected health information is the
one claimed.
Transmission security: Implement technical
Oracle Advanced Security provides SSL/TLS support for
security measures to guard against
encrypted transmission and strong authentication via
unauthorized access to electronic protected
Kerberos, RADIUS and PKI
health information that is being transmitted over
an electronic communications network.
Implement security measures to ensure that
Oracle Advanced Security encryption and authentication
electronically transmitted electronic protected
health information is not improperly modified
without detection until disposed of.
Implement a mechanism to encrypt electronic
Oracle Advanced Security
protected health information whenever deemed
Oracle White Paper—HITECH’s Challenge to the
Health Care Industry
Comprehensive Data Security
Oracle is an established leader in protecting information stored within databases and delivers
security features and solutions to assist health care customers in securing PHI. In addition to
providing high availability and massive scalability to support the continuous flow of PHI vital to
patient treatment and timely delivery of critical services, Oracle data security solutions enforce
security controls where the data resides, including principles such as need-to-know, least
privilege, and separation of duty.
Oracle provides strong controls on privileged user access to application data. Privileged users
have the ability to maintain the database, reflecting the minimum access required to do their jobs,
but generally should not be allowed to see or manipulate critical data. This is essential in a health
care environment, in which patient information should be disclosed only on a need to know basis
for medical treatment and essential support services.
Oracle’s defense-in-depth suite of database security solutions help health care providers and
business associates implement and manage a best-performer data security program.
Defense-in-depth data security means looking at data security holistically. To do that, one needs
to look at the entire life cycle of the data, where the data resides, what applications access the
data, who is accessing the data and under what conditions, and ensuring that the systems have
been properly configured and remain that way. Key elements of this approach include
encryption and data masking, access control, and monitoring.
Access controls beyond the application level are now vital to enabling organizations to achieve
the benefits of data consolidation, off-shoring and cloud computing. Historically, applications
have been designed to scale to Internet requirements and provide role based functional access.
Today, however, regulations and privacy laws require limited access to application data, even by
the database administrator and especially from ad-hoc tools that can be used to bypass the
While encryption and access control are key components to protecting data, even the best
security systems are not complete without a monitoring system in place. Just as video cameras
supplement audible alarms in homes and businesses, monitoring provides the corresponding
who, what and when that complements the encryption, masking and access control systems.
Oracle White Paper—HITECH’s Challenge to the
Health Care Industry
How Oracle Protects Patient Information
Data Encryption and Masking
Classification of data — in this case, most importantly, PHI — is a strong determining factor in
applying the appropriate level of protection required across the board. While PHI distribution
and disclosure must be limited by strong access controls, it must be made quickly and
transparently available to health care practitioners and supporting service providers as needed.
This means protecting the data beyond the access controls within the database and restricting
direct access at the underlying operating system.
Encryption is essential to protect data from unauthorized use, whether it is on disk underneath
the database and applications, in development environments, in transmission or on backup
Oracle Advanced Security transparently encrypts data when written to disk and decrypts it after a
user has been successfully authenticated and authorized. This is provided by the Oracle Advanced
Security transparent data encryption (TDE) capability. TDE supports table column encryption and
tablespace encryption. TDE prevents attempts to bypass the database and access files directly
either at the operating system layer or on backup media. TDE tablespace encryption is fully
integrated with Oracle Advanced Compression, enabling organizations to leverage encryption and
reduce storage requirements. Oracle Advanced Security is consistent with the HITECH guidance
for strong encryption algorithms supporting AES (256, 192 and 128 bits) and 3DES (3 and 2
keys; 168 bits).
Data encrypted with TDE remains encrypted on backup media without any modification to
existing backup procedures. In addition, TDE is integrated with Oracle Data Pump, enabling
data extracted from the Oracle database and written to a flat file, to be encrypted.
Oracle Advanced Security also provides network encryption and strong authentication services. It
can be used to enable SSL/TLS encryption to protect data going to and from the database as
well as enforces strong authentication to the Oracle database using Kerberos, PKI or RADIUS.
Data masking is another essential tool in protecting PHI against improper use, consistent with
the HITECH concept of limited disclosure. Under HITECH, health care providers and business
associates must limit PHI use to the minimum necessary to accomplish the required purpose.
Oracle Data Masking replaces sensitive information, such as social security numbers or other
personal identifiers, with faux values in the same format, allowing PHI to be used for
development, testing, and research in which de-identified data is sufficient so that the
information is not associated with an individual.
Oracle White Paper—HITECH’s Challenge to the
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Database Enforced Access Controls
Privileged users, such as administrators with elevated rights, are often overlooked as security
risks, yet they typically have the highest level of access and authorization, often to information
that is not required to perform their duties. In a health care context, this means they may well be
able to read, copy, or even alter PHI. Because of this, hackers and organized crime organizations
may target privileged users’ authentication credentials as a means of accessing PHI. Ironically,
privileged users, who have the most potential to do harm, inadvertently or intentionally, are the
most poorly managed in terms of access control, due to concerns over disrupting operations.
Oracle Database Vault provides strong privileged user access control, using the concept of
“realms” to create a firewall within the database. Sensitive tables or applications can be placed in
a realm, so privileged users can do their jobs without having access to PHI or other sensitive
data. So, for example, a DBA can perform his job without being able to see patient medical
and/or personally identifiable information in an application. Oracle Database Vault granular
security rules can employ multiple factors such as IP address, time of day and authentication
method to enforce policies over who, when, where and how PHI data should be accessed,
creating a “trusted-path” to the PHI data and ensuring the ad hoc tools downloaded from the
Internet cannot be used to bypass the approved application.
Monitoring, Alerting and Reporting
HITECH raises the specter of increased audit and investigatory oversight at both the federal and
state levels. Health care providers need to be prepared to present audit reports, respond to
queries and government investigation quickly with proof that controls are more than paper
policies. Holistic security should demonstrate not only a snapshot of information oversight at
any given point in time, but reflect continuous monitoring of all database activities and alerting of
possible anomalous transactions.
However, preparing for and responding to audits is typically labor intensive, expensive and error
prone, requiring that highly skilled professionals spend hundreds or thousands of man hours
poring over log data.
Oracle Audit Vault consolidates audit data generated by Oracle and non-Oracle databases from
across the enterprise into a central repository and provides dozens of audit and compliance
related assessment reports covering privileged users, account management, roles and privileges,
object management and system management. Oracle Audit Vault provides built-in alerting for
suspicious activity as well as attestation for reports and email notification, requiring that
designated individuals review reports. Oracle Audit Vault also provides integration with ticketing
systems such as BMC Remedy. Oracle databases audit settings can be centrally managed using
the Oracle Audit Vault console.
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Health Care Industry
How Oracle Controls Access to Patient Information
Implement Centralized Access Control
Health care is a dynamic, complex environment, with thousands of physicians, nurses, lab
technicians, researchers, therapists, and support personnel, from front desk receptionists to IT
professionals. All are linked electronically through LANS, WANS, and a wide range of wireless
systems and devices. They are no longer simply concentrated in hospitals but across a distributed
complex of primary care facilities, rehab centers and medical practices. Some may work remotely
and access patient information as they travel.
HIPAA requires that health care providers implement policies and procedures for authorized
access to PHI and technical policies and procedures for electronic information systems that
maintain PHI.
Effective access management requires centralized authentication, authorization, and auditing, so
that access control can be maintained efficiently, according to policy, in this type of environment.
To protect patient information and comply with HIPAA Privacy and Security rules, Health care
organizations should define global policies for access to PHI and other relevant client data based
on criteria such as:
Need-to-know and context. Is this essential to perform the individual’s job duties? A
receptionist or database administrator has no need to see PHI. A lab technician may need
medical information to perform his or her task, but doesn’t need all of a patient’s medical
Privilege/authorization. Does the individual need to be able to copy and/or modify PHI, or
simply read it?
What applications have access to PHI?
Who requires access to those applications? In what context (when and under what conditions
the user may access the application) and what functions/capabilities of the application the user
is authorized to use?
Effective access management—ultimately controlling who has access to PHI and how they are
allowed to handle that information—should be centralized to work in large, distributed
environments such as modern health care organizations. Without it, authorization and
authentication for each application and resource is fragmented, likely to produce security gaps
and burdensome to IT personnel and end users. Furthermore, determining, implementing and
enforcing appropriate authentication levels for access to PHI and other sensitive information can
become highly problematic under these conditions.
Oracle White Paper—HITECH’s Challenge to the
Health Care Industry
Producing auditable reports for internal use, partner requirements and HHS and/or state
investigators is difficult, as administrators have to collect and query logs across diverse
applications and systems. That means time, money and mistakes.
Oracle Access Manager secures access control through centralized authorization, authentication and
audit, enabling single sign-on capabilities transparent to the user. It scales natively to bring
centralized management to Oracle ERP, CRM and collaboration suite applications and provides
out of the box integration and APIs to commercial and custom applications.
By separating authorization from the application, health care providers can efficiently manage
and monitor access privileges across the organization and supporting facilities and personnel.
Using Oracle Access Manager, health care organizations can assign authentication based on the
application, system and/information that needs to be accessed, including user ID and password,
X.509 certificates, smart cards, two-factor tokens and forms-based authentication. They can
establish hierarchies of authentication, so that users might need simple ID and password for an
employee portal, but two-factor token authentication for an HR self-service application.
Oracle Access Manager provides comprehensive security, operational, and compliance reporting, as
a wide range of information can be logged into Oracle or any relational database and exported to
third-party reporting engines or further analyzed through Oracle Identity Analytics. Common audit
reports include: authentication statistics (success/failed rates across all access servers),
authorization statistics (success/failed rates across all access servers), failed authorizations (by
user), failed authorizations (by resource), access testing, group history (all changes to all group
profiles), identity history (by user), locked-out users, password changes, users
created/deactivated/reactivated/deleted, user profile modification history (for all users),
deactivated users report and workflow execution time.
Access to protected resources can be controlled by user, group, role and attributes.
Use Role-based Access Control
Using a role-based approach provides a highly granular and flexible method for assigning and
controlling access. Rather than relying on assigning privileges to individuals and/or individuals,
to groups, a coarser approach that can become unwieldy and difficult to manage, roles can be
assigned to individuals, making it easy to add or change responsibilities.
Oracle Identity Analytics provides policy-based role creation and automated role provisioning based
on the health care organization’s information resources -- such as employee white pages,
reporting structures and partner and customer information -- which can be consolidated and
leveraged in a centralized repository.
Oracle Identity Analytics is tightly integrated out of the box with Oracle Identity Manager to automate
accurate user provisioning based on changes in role assignments (new hires, job changes, project
assignments, etc.) or changes in business role and IT role mappings.
Oracle White Paper—HITECH’s Challenge to the
Health Care Industry
Automate User Provisioning
Even the best role-based access control policies and procedures can be derailed by poor user
provisioning. Sound security and compliance practice requires a policy-driven management
process for provisioning and de-provisioning user access privileges, a clearly established and
thoroughly documented request, and approval and verification workflow.
The problem is that user provisioning is often both inefficient and inaccurate, as the brunt of the
work falls on overtaxed IT administrators and help desks. Users and managers may navigate
around required procedures and administrators may take shortcuts around policy. There will be
serious gaps between policy and practice. As a result, users will wind up with inappropriate
access to PHI, rogue or “ghost” accounts will remain active long after the individual has been
terminated or changed roles, and health care providers will be in a tough spot at audit time.
Oracle Identity Manager provides centrally managed and automated provisioning of user access and
authorization, assuring that users will have access to PHI based on job function and context, so
that authorization can be provisioned and de-provisioned on demand, according to need, Health
care providers can employ both role- and attribute-based automated provisioning, best realized
through its tight integration with Oracle Identity Analytics.
Oracle Identity Manager supports separation of approval and provisioning workflow and provides a
workflow “visualizer” that offers a graphical representation of workflow processes.
Oracle Identity Manager addresses the problem of connecting disparate systems, providing
preconfigured connectors for the most popular commercial applications and interface
technologies out of the box, enabling quick and scalable deployment in modern large, complex
distributed health care organizations. In addition, Oracle’s Adapter Factory technology provides
rapid integration to commercial or custom systems.
The reconciliation engine detects any unauthorized accounts or changes to user access privileges
and takes corrective action, such as undoing the change or notifying an administrator.
Reconciliation, in conjunction with access denial features and workflow controls, allows
organizations to detect and eliminate rogue and orphaned accounts.
Oracle Identity Manager provides historical and current provisioning data for compliance reporting,
including user identity profile history, user group membership history, user resource access and
entitlement history. This can be combined with the transaction data from workflow, policy, and
reconciliation engines to address audit inquiries.
Deploy Secure Federation
Health care providers increasingly depend on an extended network of business associates, service
providers, third-party support, vendors, etc. who need some level of access to internal
applications, systems and information, including, in some cases, PHI.
Oracle White Paper—HITECH’s Challenge to the
Health Care Industry
If managing access control and authorization inside the organization is problematic, managing
access for outside parties is far tougher. Typically, organizations have had to implement “oneoff” procedures and processes with each party, requiring shared identity and authentication
information, policy agreement and complex mutual authentication. Identity integration is costly
and difficult to repeat. This is on top of all the usual headaches associated with access control
and user provisioning.
Oracle Identity Federation is a scalable, standards-based and secure solution, which enables health
care organizations to rapidly establish secure, repeatable and sustainable partner relationships,
minimizing the recurring costs, integration issues and security risks generally associated with
It supports multiple federation protocols, including SAML, Liberty Alliance and WS-Federation,
support for Microsoft CardSpace for authentication as well as a wide range of authentication
providers. Its flexible and scalable architecture can be integrated easily into heterogeneous
Reduce Risk and Fraud
Patient information is increasingly exposed to high risk in this highly distributed and extended
health care environment. As the transmission of digital PHI and associated patient information
becomes prevalent, the risk of theft and fraud grows as Web applications reach out over the
extended health care organization and across the public Internet.
Oracle Adaptive Access Manager helps secure this growing environment, making it safer for health
care organizations to expose sensitive data to remote employees, health care providers, partners
and patients. It provides real-time and context-aware risk assessment, multi-factor authentication
and authentication process hardening for Web applications. Oracle Adaptive Access Manager reduces
fraud and secures the free flow of information necessary for responsive health care.
Oracle Adaptive Access Manager provides two integrated components to help organizations prevent
fraud. Adaptive Strong Authenticator provides methods to strengthen standard authentication
mechanisms, innovative secondary authentication mechanisms and easy integration of third-party
authentication products. Adaptive Risk Manager provides flexible context-aware risk analytics to
protect applications across multiple channels of access. Real-time evaluation of multiple key data
types can stop fraud when it is being attempted.
HITECH presents health care providers with both opportunities and challenges. The move to
pervasive use of electronic health records, spurred by billions of dollars in incentives, promises a
far more efficient, more responsive and, ultimately, more cost-effective health care system, tied
together in a health information network that promises enhanced medical care.
Oracle White Paper—HITECH’s Challenge to the
Health Care Industry
This progress comes with a renewed emphasis on patient information privacy and security, put at
greater risk by the very innovations in the use of electronic records that hold so much promise.
Given the risk and rewards, as well as the clear message that they can expect elevated oversight
from HHS and state governments, health care organizations must implement security programs
built on sound data security, access control and authorization policies and standards-based
Oracle’s integrated and robust identity management and data security solutions, empower
organizations to implement first-class security and HIPAA/HITECH compliance programs in
health care’s emerging electronic age.
Legal Disclaimer
The contents of this white paper are provided for general information purposes only, on an “AS
IS” basis without warranty of any kind. The contents are not intended, and under no
circumstances may be used or relied upon, as legal advice. If you have any questions about your
organization’s legal or regulatory requirements, please consult with an attorney.
HITECH’s Challenge to the
Health Care Industry
October 2011
Author: Oracle
Oracle Corporation
World Headquarters
500 Oracle Parkway
Redwood Shores, CA 94065
Copyright © 2011, Oracle and/or its affiliates. All rights reserved. This document is provided for information purposes only and
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