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Hospital Access Control in the Palm of Employees' Hands

A major trend in both physical and logical access control, particularly as the two converge, is moving to biometric authentication technologies for a more accurate, secure method of verifying identities. However, not all biometrics are created equal – a truth that Bates County Memorial Hospital in Butler, Mo., learned the proverbial hard way.

Bates is a 60-bed acute facility offering a wide range of services, including an emergency department staffed with physicians around the clock as well as in-patient and out-patient surgery. To streamline its time and attendance system for doctors, nurses and the entire hospital staff, the Bates IT department deployed a fingerprint biometric solution.

The seemingly innovative initiative, however, soon proved to have issues as Bates began experiencing several serious problems with its fingerprint system. At the outset, the system could not recognize a number of employees’ fingerprints and therefore could be bypassed to only use the employees’ ID numbers, says Daniel Cook, networking engineer at the medical facility.

“It was also not a hygienic technology because employees were constantly touching the sensor, so it did not comply with hospital infection control standards,” Cook says. “We liked the idea of biometrics as the best form of access control, but needed something more advanced than fingerprinting.”

To that end, Cook and his staff turned to PalmSecure, a biometric authentication technology made by Fujitsu Frontech North America Inc. that identifies users by scanning and analyzing their sub-thermal palm vein patterns (which are unique to every individual and do not change over time).

PalmSecure is an advanced, vascular pattern recognition technology that provides a highly reliable authentication in a contactless, hygienic form factor that is nonintrusive and easy to use. Also, because PalmSecure scans vein patterns instead of the surface of the palm, it cannot be confused or duped by cuts, abrasions or other surface abnormalities that can impact the accuracy using a fingerprint biometric system.

Bates integrated PalmSecure into its new MedGenix Health Information Network, its Hospital Information System modules as well as the modules for Rural Hospitals and Clinics developed by Creative Healthcare Systems Inc. Cook and his staff leveraged the Fujitsu PalmSecure Web-based system to integrate the technology into the MedGenix network in less than four weeks.

“PalmSecure has saved the hospital money by eliminating a two-factor authentication process that was easily circumvented, and simply replacing it with single, reliable authentication technology,” Cook says. “It is also a much more hygienic, sterile system than what we were using before.”

Vic Herring is Vice President of Sales and Business Development, Advanced Technology Group, for Richardson, Texas-based Fujitsu Frontech North America Inc.

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