CIO of the Year | Cara Babachicos revamps access management amid exploding patient volume

South Shore Health is the largest independent health system in southeastern Massachusetts. (South Shore Health)

Challenges tied to the pandemic hit health care harder than perhaps any vertical, driving a surge in demand, a transition to virtual care, and unprecedented attacks that saw hospitals and medical research facilities as prime targets.

Cara Babachicos,
South Shore Health

As senior vice president and chief information officer at South Shore Health (SSH), a regional community health system near Boston, Cara Babachicos recognized the critical need to ensure rapid shifts in service did not neglect security – upping her own training to ensure she was proficient in the discipline. Her leadership is marked by an emphasis on virtual care and remote monitoring technology to enhance the patient experience and allow care in the home, and expertise in electronic health records (EHR) and system integration – recognizing that both introduce potentials risks to sensitive data if not properly implemented.

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“In the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, Cara helped SSH address the tremendous strain this public health crisis placed on SSH and other health systems,” said Gus Malezis, CEO of Imprivata, who works with Babachicos through her participation in Imprivata’s Customer Advisory Board, which is compromised of a cross-section of health care IT leaders who meet to discuss issues related to improving clinician productivity, securing patient data and increasing the use of technology among physicians and clinical staff. “Thanks to her, South Shore Health replaced an error-prone, manual administration of user accounts for clinical and non-clinical systems and optimized the on-boarding and off-boarding process."

South Shore Health also streamlined the auditing processes and analytics for faster threat evaluation and remediation, he added, and can now address risk from internal, external non-employee, and even non-human identities.  

Indeed, throughout the course of her career, Babachicos led EHR implementation for a $1 billion integrated delivery network, including health systems and integration with Dana Farber Cancer Center and Mass General Brigham. She also built a multi-year cybersecurity strategy, developed a cybersecurity program and assembled a team of security experts, inclusive of biomedical, while completing a cybersecurity graduate certificate program at Harvard University.

In the past year at SSH, Babachicos achieved HIMSS Analytics Stage 7 EMR Adoption EMRAM and Outpatient Adoption Model O-ENRAM – the highest level certification of electronic health effectiveness, achieved by fewer than 10% of all health care organizations. Most recently, she recognized the need for optimized identity and access governance at SSH as a means to secure an exploding volume of patient, provider and non-employee data. The digital identity solution, which ties in single sign-on, multi-factor authentication and identity governance, was rolled out in less than two years.

“As an early adopter of identity and access management technologies, Cara has positioned SSH as a model for delivering solutions that increase productivity and strengthen security,” Malezis said.

Jill Aitoro

Jill Aitoro leads editorial for SC Media, and content strategy for parent company CyberRisk Alliance. She 20 years of experience editing and reporting on technology, business and policy.

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