The physics of healthcare access control

Albert Einstein Healthcare Network finds a seamless and secure badging solution

For more than 140 years, The Albert Einstein Healthcare Network (AEHN) has provided impeccable medical care to the greater Philadelphia area and has earned a reputation for quality, excellence and leadership in the healthcare field.

To better serve the communities of greater Philadelphia, the network split from Jefferson Health System, Philadelphia's largest healthcare system, to pursue its own independent strategic direction. As a result, Albert Einstein Medical Center changed its name to Albert Einstein Healthcare Network. Senior management implemented a rebranding strategy that included a new corporate identity and mission as well as a new logo. That meant the network needed new ID badges.

The Challenge

The first major challenge for AEHN security, led by Russell Jones, network director for protective services at the organization, was replacing the employees, doctors, volunteers and other medical staff's badges with ID cards featuring the network's new logo. And while developing a re-badging production strategy, Jones decided to leverage the project to upgrade their entire access control system as well.

This was no small task. With four hospitals, seven campuses and approximately 50 off-site primary care physician and surgical center locations, the medical center and its network host 1,200 beds, 6,000 employees, 1,200 staff and voluntary physicians, 10,000 visitors per day, and more than 100,000 emergency room patients per year.

New readers were required to replace the 300 existing Weigand swipe-card readers, and 7,000 new badges needed to be securely produced and distributed to the ID card holders efficiently, and with minimal disruption to the normal flow of business.

"The protective services department is a lean group of people responsible for all aspects of security at Albert Einstein," Jones says. "With our small team, it was imperative to identify a cost-effective method to re-badge the employees, volunteers and other personnel that wouldn't dominate our time for weeks on end."

Since AEHN has multiple campuses spread over a wide geographical distance, installation of the new readers and re-badging needed to take place in phases. "We needed a solution that would work with our old Wiegand swipe card technology and allow us to migrate in phases to a more technologically advanced access control solution," Jones says.

Another important requirement for the Network was to integrate its KRONOS payroll system, which tracks time and attendance, into the new badges. Integrating payroll into the system added a layer of complexity to the card technology that was important to employees and the overall healthcare system.

The Optimum Solution

With their challenges outlined, Jones selected Siemens, a global security systems integrator, to be the technology integrator on the project. Siemens chose HID Global's iCLASS technology readers and smart cards, and HID's Identity on Demand (IoD) services to securely produce the thousands of new ID badges.

HID Global provided the current Wiegand system at AEHN, so it was a natural progression to upgrade the access control system and produce badges using HID solutions, since Jones and his department already trusted the company's products and services. "Siemens, HID and I put a tremendous amount of effort into planning and implementing the best solution for Albert Einstein Healthcare Network," Jones says. "The reader and badge upgrade could not have gone as well as it did without the partnership."

By choosing iCLASS contactless smart cards, AEHN facilities now have higher levels of security than traditional access-control technologies. They also benefit from a platform that not only incorporated the payroll system, but can also easily add other applications, such as single sign-on and cashless vending.

Since the new technology was to be installed in phases, old and new card readers were going to exist in the facilities at the same time. To ensure a seamless transition for employees, HID Global offered dual-technology iCLASS cards that worked on both systems.

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