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Biometrics - Case Studies

Sharp Healthcare: Enabling strong authentication with biometrics

Sharp Healthcare is San Diego's most comprehensive health care delivery system, comprising more than 1,800 licensed beds and 2,500 physicians.  Its wide network of hospitals, medical groups, nursing facilities, and community health centers, offer a full range of integrated care to approximately 3 million area residents.

The Challenge

To provide faster and easier access to resources through biometrics, single sign-on, and context management, while helping ensure greater patient security and privacy.

The Solution

In 2003, Sharp Healthcare re-engineered its entire clinical system with Sentillion's Vergence® technology to simplify caregiver access and implement greater security and patient privacy.  Vergence integrates Identix BioLogon® fingerprint biometric authentication software and provides solutions for strong authentication, single sign-on, context management, and privacy management for the healthcare industry.

Sharp's first phase of re-engineering included installing the context management, single sign-on, and privacy auditing portions of Sentillion's Vergence suite.

To enable strong authentication, Identix fingerprint authentication and Identix BioTouch fingerprint readers were added to complete the solution.  The fingerprint readers are connected to a variety of systems, including PCs, thin clients, and mobile carts, both traditional and wireless.  The fingerprint reader technology is seamlessly integrated with Vergence Authenticator and Active Directory.  This ensures strong authentication of the user, while simultaneously setting the user context for the associated workstation. Upon verification, the user is granted access rights.

Sentillion's single sign-on capability and Identix fingerprint biometric authentication are now enabling doctors, nurses, and other caregivers to log onto the system with a single user name and a touch of their finger in order to gain access to all of the necessary clinical programs, without needing to log on to each clinical program individually.  This has resulted in greater convenience for Sharp's enrolled users by eliminating the need to remember passwords and carry cards.

The deployment which is touted to be the largest network of biometrically enabled, strong authentication solutions ever installed in a healthcare environment included 8,000 Identix BioTouchTM USB fingerprint readers and an 11,000-user BioLogon server license.

Implementation is well underway. At the start of 2004, over 2,000 fingerprint readers were in place, providing almost a quarter of  Sharp's 12,000 employees with biometric authentication. The remaining 6,000 readers are currently being installed, with a completion date scheduled for the summer of 2004.

The Results

At project completion, Sharp's state-of-the-art authentication solution will provide greater security for 8,700 Sharp users and, as a result, will help protect the record of countless patients.

The successful integration of the solution into Sharp's IT system is providing faster and easier access to resources while helping ensure greater patient security and privacy.  Workflows have been greatly enhanced throughout Sharp's facilities enabling faster decision-making and better patient care.

Recently, Modern Healthcare magazine ranked Sharp 9th among the Top 100 Integrated Healthcare Networks.  Sharp's goal is to continue providing our caregivers and patients with the highest quality technology resources and, in doing so, to become the premier example of IT innovation in healthcare.

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