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N.J. Medical Center Uses LF Tags to Protect Patient Records

Englewood Hospital requires staff to use RFID-enabled identity badges to access the institution's computers and applications.
By Beth Bacheldor
Nov 14, 2007A number of hospitals are starting to employ RFID to track medical devices and other assets. But Englewood Hospital and Medical Center (EHMC) is using the technology for another purpose: to protect patient data and control access to its clinical system and other critical applications.

In operation since 1890, the Englewood, N.J., hospital has 520 beds and more than 2,500 employees. The medical center is using an identity and access management (IAM) solution from Encentuate, based in Redwood City, Calif. The system combines low-frequency (LF) 125 kHz RFID proximity tags embedded in employee badges with single-sign-on (SSO) software, workflow and security management functions that nurses, doctors and other hospital employees can utilize to access the facility's computers and applications. SSO is a method of access control that enables a user to access multiple software applications after a single authentication.

EHMC was already using an RFID-enabled system from HID to control access to its computer rooms, employee entrances and pharmacy, says Gary Wilhelm, the hospital's business and financial systems manager overseeing the Encentuate RFID-based security rollout. After considering several options to secure access to its applications, it ultimately opted to use the same 125 kHz RFID proximity tags to not only control physical access to rooms, but also operational access to computers and software.

"I looked at quite a few," Wilhelm explains, such as USB keys, magnetic-stripe cards and fingerprint ID systems. "RFID seems to be easier to use. The magnetic stripes can go bad; the fingerprint readers are subject to oil on the device. With RFID systems, there seems to be less failure rates. And if the employee can't access a system because of a failure, that is very frustrating." Encentuate's system also allowed the hospital to use existing employee badges, which were RFID-enabled for the physical access security system already in place.

To date, EHMC has equipped 50 nursing computer stations (kiosks) and several dozen administrative computers with RFID interrogators and the Encentuate software. In mid-December, it plans to begin equipping an additional 100 PCs with RFID interrogators and security software.

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