Safe-Biopharma teams with Verizon, furthers NCI work

CHICAGO -- It's official: Verizon will manage the SAFE-BioPharma Association's digital identity services and issue SAFE-BioPharma digital credentials to members. The telecom giant will provide SAFE-BioPharma's Registration Authority System (RAS) service--a rapid, online identity-proofing and certificate issuance system that establishes verifiable individual identities--directly to SAFE-BioPharma Association members.

The announcement is not the first mention of the deal. CEO Mollie Shields-Uehling reported in the association's fourth-quarter newsletter, published in November, that Verizon was taking over back-room operations from SAIC. At that time, Shields-Uehling said the transition "was expected to result in several service enhancements" for both the life sciences and U.S. healthcare communities.

And it has. Verizon now supports the SAFE-BioPharma standard in its Universal Identity Services for Healthcare (credentials used by health care workers to universally access health IT information securely), says the current announcement. The collaboration addresses biopharmaceutical and health care sector concerns about cybersecurity, interoperability and compliance. This standard enables SAFE BioPharma Association members and other health care organizations to use digital signatures for processing electronic documents and even for prescribing medications.

Shields-Uehling, in an interview at this year's DIA annual meeting, provided an update on the association's relationship with the National Cancer Institute. A year ago she reported on a pilot demonstrating an all-electronic workflow that included digital signatures and use of the Federal Bridge--large-scale government and other public key networks linked by certification paths. In the pilot, the collaborators use digital signatures to authenticate reviewer, approver and signers of such documents as letters of intent, concept approval, protocol approval, and clinical trial agreements and contracts.

Their collaboration has since progressed, Shields-Uehling now says, to a site study initiative in which any NCI partner can start the site initiation paperwork in the cloud. In another effort, NCI is working with the association and an apps vendor to tailor the application to NCI's work processes. One example of such tailoring is the addition of a "refuse to sign" option on notes that require signatures.

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