Hospitals and other healthcare facilities operate in a complex, ever-changing environment. Staying ahead of technology trends, creating a safe, secure and yet welcoming environment and most importantly, providing the highest quality of patient care as possible are important goals of any healthcare organization. Security integrators who can contribute to these goals will be seen as a valuable partner as initiatives move forward. One area that touches on many aspects of a healthcare facility’s operation is the credential/ID strategy.
Think about this: A hospital’s employee wears a lanyard with a magnetic stripe ID badge with a barcode printed on it. In addition, she must remember two different PIN codes for offline keypad locks, carry keys for cabinets and a proximity card to access the institution’s other facility. She finds it frustrating to find and use the correct credential for the function she needs to accomplish—whether moving through the facility, using the time and attendance system, logging into the Electronic Medical Records (EMR) or diagnostic imaging review workstations or accessing supply closets.
If we review the typical healthcare facility access control system, in all too many cases, its components were installed in stages by various departments and using different manufacturers’ equipment. As a result, the system is comprised of different brands and disparate products, many of which do not interface with each other, causing physicians and employees to use different credentials throughout their work day.
But what if there was one credential that could do it all; that could be used with most systems in the facility? One credential for the staff to carry and easily accomplish multiple tasks? One credential that was secure enough to meet even the toughest standards? One credential that meets their business objectives? Smart cards can do just that.
What smart credentials can do for
the healthcare vertical market
Besides making access control more convenient, smart cards can be used for time and attendance, logical access, cashless vending and cafeteria payments, and checking out scrubs and medical equipment. Right now, it’s likely that a different credential type is being used with each system. And different departments are managing those credentials. Smart cards make it possible to consolidate all of those functions onto one credential, creating an efficient environment where staff would have only one credential to use throughout their day.
Issuing one smart credential also impacts administrative costs. Emphasize that not only is the cost of a single credential lower than purchasing multiple forms of ID, but the reduced management and distribution time for one credential will have a significant impact on productivity.
In addition to the advantages of their functionality for multiple applications, it is important for integrators to show healthcare security administrators how smart credentials also increase the security of information kept on the card and stored in the facility. In comparison to door keys, magnetic stripe cards or proximity cards, the encrypted security of smart credentials ensures that they are far harder to counterfeit. It is not possible to put a dollar amount on the potential damage that a healthcare organization could suffer by unauthorized individuals gaining access to restricted areas of the facility or private patient records. By issuing their staff credentials with strong authentication mechanisms, healthcare organizations are effectively investing in their well being and demonstrating that they take security seriously.
For higher-security applications that require multiple forms of verification, the smart card also has an advantage in that it securely stores other credential types such as biometric templates, PIN codes and photos right on the smart card. This provides an extra level of security at the access point, protecting the information behind closed doors or on the secure network without added inconvenience to the user.