Implementing Okta’s Identity Cloud at CMS, an Enabling Technology for Digital Transformation: An Interview with Mark Settle, Okta’s CIO,
Rob Waters, VP and Program Director with Healthcare IT Connect sat down with Mark Settle, Okta, CIO to learn more about Okta’s recent selection by CMS to support it’s identity architecture and to discuss the broader implications of cloud based ID management solutions for H&HS transformation!
Rob Waters: I’d like to initially congratulate Okta on your selection by CMS to help streamline and modernize it’s identity architecture, could you elaborate on the work Okta will be undertaking there?
Mark Settle: Thank you! CMS selected Okta to provide the Okta Identity Cloud as a key enabling technology for CMS’ Quality Payment Program (QPP). Over one million health care providers across the U.S. seek CMS reimbursement for their services via QPP. Okta provides cloud-based solutions for identity and access management. We were specifically selected for our agility (ability to scale rapidly and provide coverage for all CMS caregivers), user experience (simplifying the use of multiple user names and passwords) and security (end-to-end encryption and early detection of anomalous login behaviors). The Okta Identity Cloud is also extendable to other applications and services CMS may want to pursue in the future.
RW: Where does this fit into CMS’ overall modernization efforts and how will the solution ultimately impact CMS’ ability to better serve its’ constituents?
MS: Agility, user experience and security are foundational elements of the overall digital transformation that is occurring at CMS. Balancing ease of use with security is a tough task for any enterprise, but doubly so for a federal agency handling reimbursement for medical services provided to individual citizens. The Okta Identity Cloud provides single sign-on, directory management, user provisioning and multi-factor authentication, which can be deployed and adapted to achieve the appropriate balance for CMS’ mission, not only in the context of the QPP program but for other programs as well. Okta’s comprehensive solutions for identity and access management allow CMS to focus on what its stakeholders really want, namely a secure and seamless experience.
RW: Many states are beginning to take a ‘Cloud First’ approach to their application procurements, what advice do you have for states who are considering cloud services for their H&HS transformation efforts?
MS: All enterprises that embark on a cloud-first journey have to overcome deeply engrained phobias about the reliability and security of cloud-based services. They typically challenge the cloud vendors to prove that they are perfectly reliable and secure. That’s really the wrong question to ask. The enterprises should be asking themselves if they can deliver comparable services more reliably and more securely than the cloud vendors! The answer, almost invariably, will be “no” because cloud services are required to meet certain security standards. My second piece of advice is to achieve a critical mass of cloud-based services as quickly as possible. True business agility is realized when a combination of cloud-based services is used to deliver all or most of some type of business process. Adding only one or two cloud capabilities to an existing application architecture will not produce the transformational results that most enterprises are seeking. At the same time, these new cloud-based solutions can be accessed on demand, from anywhere in the world, as long as the person is an authorized user.
RW: From a maintenance and management perspective what advantages does this approach bring to an IT organization in the long term?
MS: Bringing on cloud applications and services will take an organization out of the business of buying hardware and operating data centers, and allows them to focus on delivering new and better services through an interface that is more intuitive, personalized and secure than anything they’ve offered in the past. Reliable infrastructure operations are presumptive table stakes to any customer or end user. The name of the game going forward is customer experience. Infrastructure maintenance responsibilities are, in effect, a distraction from delivering the business functionality and ease of use that end users are really seeking. Okta, and other cloud-based service providers, can relieve IT organizations of this distraction.
RW: Okta’s principal offering is branded as the ‘Okta Identity Cloud’, can this solution be integrated into any application environment?
MS: Absolutely. We think of the Okta Identity Cloud as the foundation for secure connections between people and technology. Okta is actually embedded in a variety of commercial services such as Adobe’s Creative Cloud and Ring Central’s unified communication products. Access to Adobe and Ring Central’s services is authenticated via Okta — without any interruptions to the user experience. Okta has a 100% API driven architecture which enables its integration into virtually any application environment. Additionally, Okta offers deep integrations to over 5,000 cloud and web-based commercial services via the Okta Application Network (OAN), making Okta the “easy button” for IT shops seeking to expand the use of cloud-based applications in the future.
Join Okta on:
“Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services: Identity is key for a Secure, User-friendly Experience” on Tuesday, March 28, 3:45 p.m.
Register to Attend the 2017 State Healthcare IT Connect Summit | March 28th – 29th | Hilton Baltimore, Baltimore MD.