Sales & Marketing--Selling ‘Smarts’ to Healthcare Facilities

Integrators have the upper hand in explaining the pluses


Get kudos from IT

When presenting a smart card solution, be prepared for representatives from the IT department to take notice. As in many other industries, more and more healthcare security system decisions are being made with input from the IT department. And we’re seeing increased convergence of physical and logical security team structures in light of recent widespread adoption of EMR and other hospital records systems.

IT professionals want strong authentication credentials, the level of security provided by smart cards. Contrary to proximity cards and their readers, smart cards go through a challenge and response sequence to initiate conversations with the network. Communications are encrypted using industry standard encryption techniques. By welcoming their involvement and showing ability to speak their language and answer their questions, you will gain additional layers of approval within the IT organization.

Another partnership that may also prove valuable is collaborating with hospital IT systems integrators. Healthcare providers are already working with this segment of integration experts in their implementation of EMR and other technologies. Just as you are an expert in physical security integration and have strong relationships with your customers, building relationships with an IT systems integrator could broaden both companies’ customer bases and build your combined reputations as innovative service providers.

While functionality is very important to the purchasing decision, increased information storage and transmission makes data security one of the top reasons to choose the right credential when implementing a successful credential strategy. The IT department, specifically, will be very involved in what type of smart cards and readers are specified for this reason. While all smart cards are more secure than other credential technologies, one stands far above the rest.

Smart cards utilizing MIFARE DESFire EV1 technology, such as aptiQ from Ingersoll Rand, offer several different layers of security, including mutual authentication, which ensures that the reader and the card are allowed to talk with each other before any information is exchanged. Smart cards using MIFARE DESFire EV1 will also provide—

AES 128-bit encryption, a key encryption technique that helps protect sensitive information.

Diversified keys which virtually ensure no one can read or access the credential’s information without authorization.

Message Authentication Code (MAC) which further protects each transaction between the credential and the reader. This security features ensures complete and unmodified transfer of information, helping to protect data integrity and prevent outside attacks.

Also, choosing the right smart card credential can make all the difference when trying to use them with applications other than access control. Look for platforms that are open format rather than those designed for proprietary systems. Open formats allow easy integration into other applications with minimal programming, speeding up the time of deployment, reducing the cost of implementation, and giving your customer more freedom to get the most out of their investment.

It is critical that healthcare organizations be prepared for smart credential deployment, even if the facility wants to continue to use the proximity, magnetic stripe or keypad readers that are already installed. One way to help them start preparing for the migration to smart cards is to deploy multi-technology credential readers and electronic locks that combine the ability to read both proximity cards and smart cards using a single device as new installations take place. This way, when the organization makes the transition to smart cards, they won’t have to replace all of their current devices when the move takes place. During the transition, current staff members will be able to use their current credentials and new employees can be issued and start using the new smart card credentials. This allows them to transition the rest of the staff on a reasonable timeline and according to budgets.