Access Control Gets the Job Done

Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island deploys multi-functional access control technology


Blue Cross & Blue Shield of Rhode Island (BCBSRI) has played a significant role in both the health and economy of the state of Rhode Island since 1939. The organization’s mission is to provide its members with peace of mind and improved health by representing them in their pursuit of affordable, high-quality healthcare.

BCBSRI needed to upgrade its workplace to a more efficient, secure, effective and sustainable environment. An in-depth analysis compared the feasibility of renovating several older buildings to constructing a new building. A benefit for the new building was the opportunity to install a completely new state-of-the-art system to dramatically increase security. Having a secure work environment is a major issue for a health insurance company in meeting HIPAA requirements, and can involve access control, visitor management and video surveillance.

To meet both HIPAA requirements and to create a streamlined work environment, the company looked to deploy a multi-function, high-security and user-friendly solution that integrated easily with other cutting-edge systems in the new building.

Another goal in this transition was to create an environmentally friendly and sustainable workplace. One aspect of this was to install multi-function printers (MFPs), something BCBSRI had been considering for 10 years. It was critical to have a security system that enabled the move to MFPs.

The company also wanted a one-card solution that opens more than just the door. They wanted the same card to be enabled for use with services such as cashless vending in the cafeteria, as well as for access control in the company gym and parking structures. In addition, BCBSRI wanted an elevated level of security in restricted areas, so a system enabling biometrics was also desirable.

Eric Caruso, of security systems integrator Team AVS, presented HID Global technology — iCLASS R40 readers and iCLASS smart cards — as the core of the access-control solution. The integrator also recommended using HID Identity on Demand (IoD) services to produce the new badges, thus simplifying the re-badging project and reducing the strain on company resources during the move.

In the old buildings, BCBSRI employees had a separate card for the cashless vending system that is already compatible with HID’s technology, which made the transition simple and successful.

Now, employees carry only one card for secure access and cashless vending.

That same card also works for parking, gym membership, and printing, copying and faxing using the MFPs. When an employee sends a job to print, it sits in the cloud until the person arrives at the printer, scans their HID multi-purpose smart card, and requests the specific job to output.

“If we didn’t have the HID cards, we couldn’t have had the multi-function printers,” says Tom Bovis, assistant vice president of Corporate Real Estate/Administrative Services for the organization.

As required by HIPAA, the cards also display the employee’s photo. For those needing access to restricted areas, including the data center and cash processing, their cards also contain biometrics.

“People are happy with the system,” Bovis says.

Migrating employees to the new smart cards was easily accomplished with the Identity on Demand services (IoD). Although BCBSRI had its own badge printer that would work with iCLASS, officials instead used a dedicated IoD project-management team to gather the necessary information and handle card production. IoD was able to use the photos and information in BCBSRI’s existing database for the new cards, and it created custom card designs for various populations, such as employees and contractors.