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Project Case Studies at Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles & West Tennessee Health

Authasas and Microsoft Health Solutions Group have established a technology partnership to address the need for strong authentication as a front end to the Vergence SSO and context management solution designed for clinical applications. Microsoft and Authasas developed a fingerprint biometric authentication module to plug into the Vergence Authenticator. This biometric authenticator leverages the Authasas Advanced Authentication framework, the most flexible and scalable biometric authentication product available for Microsoft® Windows.

This new authenticator is available to new and existing Vergence customers who fall into three categories 1) customers using an end-of-life biometric plugin previously available from Sentillion, 2) customers running Vergence without a biometric authenticator, and 3) new prospective customers without Vergence or any biometric technologies implemented.

Two customers that selected the Microsoft Vergence and Authasas biometric authenticator in 2010, were Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles and West Tennessee Health. These organizations fall into the second and third categories, mentioned above, of new Vergence and Authasas Advanced Authentication customers. This project brief will discuss why both companies selected the Microsoft® and Authasas® solutions and how they were implemented. 

Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles treats over 93,000 children each year. With 286 licensed beds, 46 pediatric ICU beds, and 40 neonatal ICU beds, CHLA is world-renowned for treating some of the sickest and seriously injured children in the United States.

CHLA selected Microsoft Vergence and Authasas Advanced Authentication to secure their Cerner drug distribution “carts” located in two or more nurse stations on each floor of each wing of the hospital and in each ICU. CHLA needed to secure the automated distribution of prescription drugs without complicating the duties of the caregivers. CHLA considered SSO and biometric logon to solve the issues around security and usability. CHLA already used Microsoft® Vergence in its remote clinics but did not automatically select Microsoft for the larger, facility wide deployment.

CHLA compared the Microsoft® Vergence solution to Imprivata OneSign. While both solutions offered the password automation benefits of single sign-on, but only Imprivata provided an integrated biometric authentication module. CHLA like the Imprivata solution because it met more of their needs than did the Microsoft solution on its own. This led to the integration project between Microsoft® and Authasas. Microsoft and Authasas had expressed a mutual interest in integrating in the past, but together agreed to pursue this more completely as a) customer projects and project pipeline became more immediate, and b) as legacy Vergence customers running Identix fingerprint software drew closer to the final support termination.

Microsoft® and Authasas® presented the joint solution to CHLA and engaged in a simultaneous pilot competing against Imprivata. The conclusion of the production user pilot resulted in the acquisition of the Authasas and Vergence technology. The selection criteria focused heavily on the solution’s ability to accurately support high volume of users working simultaneously in a shared workstation environment and support offline authentication to the Cerner drug carts. 

Authasas® and Microsoft®were able to support the more users with higher accuracy (lower FRR). Of even greater significance was the ability to support the Cerner carts in “Downtime Mode”. The drug carts may be statically placed in the hospital, but they are designed to be fully portable. This means that each cart connects to the Windows® network over a WiFi connection. Wireless networks at CHLA do not provide 100% uptime. Like many large networks in a “non-office” environment, network outages occur, and occur frequently. CHLA could not prevent access to the Cerner cart when the network was unavailable. Authasas Advance Authentication® and Microsoft proved the most reliable solution, offering biometric authentication to Vergence even when the network servers are unavailable. With Authasas® and Microsoft® Vergence, a unified biometric SSO solution was implemented without disruption to drug access, even in a network outage.

CHLA has deployed to 2500 users, and is expanding to 5500 in 2011.

West Tennessee Healthcare consists of multiple hospitals and clinics in 19 counties throughout West Tennessee. WTH provides 635 licensed beds and over 5000medical and service professionals, and is completely self-supporting with no dependency on local taxes.

West Tennessee Healthcare has been using single sign-on for over 10 years, and has implemented various biometric authentication solutions during that time; however a biometric standard was never implemented. WTH has taken steps, along with many technologically progressive organizations, to virtualize infrastructure and systems. WTH understands the need for medical professionals to be able to access patient records quickly, and have application sessions “roam” with them as they move about the hospital or clinic.

Complexities do arise in these “highly available”, “desktop anywhere” IT infrastructures. One such complexity is authentication, both to the clinical application, and the system hosting the application. Western Tennessee’s current SSO solution was unable to provide support for virtualized desktops, Citrix hosted desktops and applications, and the thin client workstations that were used to access them.

WTH had already evaluated Microsoft® Vergence, and selected their technology to replace the legacy single sign-on solution. WTH require a biometric front end to their new SSO solution, but they needed a biometric authentication solution that would function on their Wyse thin clients which were deployed as generic kiosks without Windows logon. They also needed biometric logon to Vergence for their dedicated laptop and tablet users. Both requirements were met by Authasas Advanced Authentication leveraging shared infrastructure. Vergence successfully implemented the “bridges” to each of the secured applications, and Authasas provided the biometric logon capability to securely provide access to each application or application session in about 5 seconds. This allows doctors, nurses and clinicians to operate more efficiently, accessing more patient information in less time.

Users at WTH are not required to know their password. Without knowledge of their password, the user is not at risk of compromising the password. WTH can confidently claim that they’re making significant progress toward compliance with HIPAA and Hitech Act.

Both Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles and Western Tennesse Health now benefit from the integration between Microsoft® and Authasas. This solution is available to all Microsoft® Vergence customers, with special project subsidies for Vergence customers losing support for legacy Identix products.