With the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) looming large and approaching quickly in healthcare’s rearview mirror, innovative security practices are receiving warm welcomes. One such example is EMSA of Tulsa, Okla., the exclusive medical service provider for more than one million Oklahomans in the Tulsa and Oklahoma City metropolitan areas. EMSA provides advanced life support and transport services. Each year, EMSA responds to 100,000 calls at the scenes of accidents, health crises and other emergencies. EMSA annually transports 60,000 patients to healthcare facilities.

Protecting patient documents and data is mission critical.

“Implementing biometrics to control access to our IT assets is a critical element in our security strategy to comply with HIPAA,” says Steve Williamson, EMSA’s president and CEO.

The Partnership

EMSA will install the BioconX software/Sony hardware biometric combination to prepare for the anticipated computer security and data privacy requirements of the (HIPAA). BioconX offers its network security software, which applies biometrics—the technology of authenticating individual identity from unique personal characteristics—to replace passwords and fortify computer system security. BioconX streamlines, simplifies and strengthens access control by centralizing all users’ biometric templates and system authorization profiles.

Sony’s FIU-710 fingerprint identification hardware system units safeguard access to its network and applications. The device is a credit card-size biometric device—also known as the “Puppy”—that uses a silicon-based capacitance sensor to capture fingerprint images. The unit performs all fingerprint matching and storage functions on-board, which protects individual users’ privacy while providing secure access to information. “We’ve decided to unbundle the capacitance shift from the FIU-710 and to sell it to systems integrators who are using it like an embedded biometric controller,” says Robert Ellis, general manager of business development for broadcast and professional company for Sony.

The FIU-700 series takes the best of passwords, digital certificates, hardware tokens, smart cards and biometrics and combines them into a stand-alone fingerprint verification device with PKI (public key infrastructure) key generation to provide more security than other existing fingerprint identification technologies. “Instead of using a password or a PIN code to access those keys and signed documents or email, you use your fingerprint to access your computer, encrypt your files and secure access to your network remotely,” says John Harris, product planning manager for Sony. “A big advantage biometrics offers is increased productivity. We also want patient privacy protection, and we are meeting HIPAA requirements,” says Chris Metcalf, director of community relations for EMSA. By replacing passwords with biometrics authentication, EMSA strengthens security and makes logging on easier for users.