The Network is Alive
Albert Einstein Healthcare Network finds seamless and secure re-badging
- By Eric Widlitz
- Jan 03, 2011
For more than 140 years, The Albert Einstein Healthcare Network 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 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.
Leading the Charge
The first major challenge for AEHN security, led by Russell Jones, the network
director for protective services, 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 AEHN’s 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 a day and more than 100,000 emergency room patients a year.
AEHN required new readers to replace its 300 existing Wiegand swipe card
readers. In addition, it needed to produce 7,000 new badges securely and distribute
them to ID cardholders efficiently, 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 said. “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 said.
Another important requirement for AEHN 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 personally important to employees and the overall healthcare system, and allowed
no margin for error.
Getting the Job Done
With his challenges outlined, Jones selected Siemens Industry Inc., 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 Identity on
Demand Services to securely produce the thousands of new ID badges.
HID Global provided AEHN’s Wiegand system, so it was a natural progression
to upgrade the access control system and produce badges using HID Global’s
solutions, as Jones and his department already trusted the company’s products
“Siemens, HID and I put a tremendous amount of effort into planning and
implementing the best solution for Albert Einstein Healthcare Network,” Jones
said. “The reader and badge upgrade could not have gone as well as it did without
the partnership of Siemens and HID Global. Our partnership was pivotal in the
success of this large and complicated project.”
The healthcare network’s facilities have higher levels of security with iCLASS
contactless smart cards than they would with traditional access-control technologies.
They also benefit from a platform that not only incorporates the payroll
system but can also easily add other applications, such as single sign-on and
As 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
At the start of the project, Jones had considered the option of producing the
ID badges in-house with rented equipment and temporary staff. But in addition
to the cost and time that would require from his protective services team to manage
and supervise the project, Jones was concerned about the possible waste due
to mistakes made in badge creation. He wanted a turnkey solution to produce the
cards quickly with the least amount of handholding.
Based on Siemens and HID Global’s recommendations, AEHN leveraged
HID’s expertise by choosing to use HID Identity on Demand Services rather than
producing the badges in-house.
“A major concern was to get the KRONOS payroll system tied into the cards,”
Jones said. “We chose HID Global IoD because it was extremely reliable and had
a quick turnaround time.”
HID Global’s IoD services securely produced personalized credentials quickly,
efficiently and within budget. IoD worked with AEHN every step of the way, ensuring
each card detail was perfect so that they could securely transfer sensitive
information from their database. To guarantee that AEHN’s KRONOS payroll
system worked accurately with these cards, IoD printed 50 cards that were then
tested over two payroll cycles. The cards performed perfectly each time and proved
their compatibility with the KRONOS payroll system.
“Allowing us to do a test run of the
new ID cards with our payroll system
gave us the peace of mind we are accustomed
to with HID Global and Siemens,”
Once they confirmed the payroll and
ID cards were fully integrated, AEHN
provided a database of employees and
their photos so the badges could be
printed and encoded off-site at IoD’s
card production facility. Within four
weeks, the healthcare network had
7,000 newly branded badges incorporating
the new technology.
“Using HID Global’s Identity on
Demand services for the re-badging
aspect of this project was a significant
benefit because it required minimal involvement
from me and my team, allowing
us to focus on other high-priority
issues,” Jones said.
As the Wiegand swipe readers were
replaced in phases with iCLASS contactless
card readers, the dual-technology
cards are compatible across multiple
facilities. The remaining 3,000 of
the 10,000 printed cards only featured
contactless technology because eventually
all the Wiegand equipment will be
replaced with the new iCLASS readers.
Results and the Future
Four weeks after initiating the project
with HID Global’s IoD group, AEHN
had 7,000 personalized badges that announced
its new brand, increased security
with the latest technology and
seamlessly integrated with its payroll
system. The entire project was completed
on time and within budget.
Since adoption of the new smartcard
badges, departments have integrated
other functions including:
single sign-on to computers, enhancing
the security of AEHN information
throughout the organization, and
cashless vending, integrating cafeteria
and vending systems to work with the
Future plans for the multi-application
platform include tracking employees’
mandatory vaccinations and adding
physicians’ credentials for visiting
doctors in case of a disaster. Down the
road, Einstein is hoping to integrate the
access control cards with medical records
and patient information as well.
In the near future, AEHN is incorporating
a fifth hospital and campus
in Montgomery, Pa., to the security
network that HID Global and Siemens
A side benefit to the project is a major
savings in card replacements. With
the legacy Wiegand swipe technology,
AEHN replaced approximately 1,000
employee ID cards every year due to
wear and tear. Now with the HID
Global iCLASS contactless cards, produced
by Identity on Demand services,
fewer than 100 are replaced yearly.
“HID is a gold-plated company when
it comes to access control cards and employee
badges,” Jones said. “We wanted
to be confident in our investment, so we
went with genuine HID.”
This article originally appeared in the January 2011 issue of Security Today.
About the Author
Eric Widlitz is Vice President of North America Sales for Vanderbilt.