I was recently trying to complete my reappointment for Vancouver Coastal Health via a website called AppCentral. I registered with a new ID and password. I tried to complete my reappointment but was asked for my Cactus ID. I tried my newly minted ID. It failed, and I was stuck. I assumed that this was my fault in not understanding the system but, nonetheless, here it was Saturday morning and I was yet again held hostage by IT for the lack of a proper ID.
This brings up a larger issue. For VCH, I have an ID and password to log in to the computer system at our hospital (PRGH). There is another ID and password to log in to our hospital information system (Meditech). I also have separate login credentials for CareConnect. I have another login for webDI. There is a separate login for the ER schedule. There is a separate login with password for the VCH Infection Control module. I used to have (but have forgotten) the login and password for accessing EKGs. I even have a password to make long distance phone calls. The passwords all expire on different schedules.
As an additional frustration, while I was working in the ER 2 weeks ago I attempted to log in to one of the patient information systems (I think it was webDI). My login failed. I assumed that it was due to an error I made. After numerous attempts with different IDs and passwords I called central IT. They told me that my ID had been locked at random as part of a system security check. I’m not sure how this improved security because they reset my password when I told them my name. It did, however, shut down patient care in the ER for about 15 minutes.
My point in writing this letter is to bring attention to the (I think) obvious problem of patient security being so secure that patient care is compromised. I suspect there is an inverse relationship between how onerous it is to access information and our likelihood of using that information. An obvious example is the CareConnect system. It is very laborious to identify a specific patient in CareConnect and the system is very slow to respond with information. Because the system is user unfriendly and time consuming, I intuit that the information in the database is not used as much as it otherwise would be.
It seems to me that every new online program has its own security system. Surely, the ability to integrate IDs and passwords across systems exists. This situation is worsening and it is impeding patient care. I hope this letter helps to galvanize a discussion around this issue.
—Jeff Lynskey, MD
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