Making A Healthy Switch To A Single ID Card

LINSTAR combines magnetic stripes and bar codes on one ID card for 20,000 Kaleida Health employees.

In April 1998, Buffalo General Hospital, The Children's Hospital of Buffalo, DeGraff Memorial Hospital, Millard Fillmore Gates Circle Hospital, Millard Fillmore Suburban Hospital, and affiliates merged to create Kaleida Health. This created the largest health system in western New York and the 39th largest in the nation at that time.

Before the merger, each hospital had its own unique access control system and methods for processing employee IDs. Some produced "cut and paste" laminated badges, while others simply used name tags. Employees from several of these facilities carried multiple cards for identification, parking, and access control.

Kaleida Health wanted to use one card for access control, time and attendance, parking gate entry, and of course, visual identification. It was important to encode on all cards whatever data might be necessary at any given facility. And, Kaleida Health didn't want to reprint badges for employees who required access to additional facilities, or were transferred to new locations within the system. With a single card design, Kaleida Health wanted to make programming adjustments on its host application, and just activate cards for additional access levels required.

Combining Magnetic Stripes And Bar Codes Into One Card
Kaleida Health's Corporate Security Department chose LINSTAR, a Buffalo, NY-based VAR. According to Mary Jo Cornell, LINSTAR's president and general manager, her company was chosen because the individual hospitals were already LINSTAR customers. The hospitals were using ID-related equipment from Datacard (Minnetonka, MN) for patient identification. "We were persistent in our approach to upgrading the employee ID systems," she says. "We were chosen because we were able to provide local, on-site service and support. This project was a major undertaking for Kaleida Health, and the company was comfortable with our experience in integrated ID systems. We were also committed to managing the project and taking responsibility for communications with the project's other vendors."

LINSTAR installed six systems, each consisting of a PC, Datacard's QuikWorks software, video cameras, signature capture devices, and ImageCard S2 duplex ID card printers with encoding. Complete systems were installed at six permanent locations. An additional system with a notebook PC is used for remote capture and at locations with high-volume image capture requirements. Existing bar code and magnetic stripe readers were also integrated. Cornell says a standard system can average about $10,000.

The sales cycle was relatively short, Cornell commented, once the decision was made to move Kaleida Health to digital ID technology. "We worked with Kaleida Health at length to help it identify all the card-based legacy systems (such as physical access control) in place at each hospital," she explained. "Along with that came the implications of converting the facilities to a common ID card design. We contacted vendors of the systems involved, and we facilitated the dialog on systems requirements and the implementation schedule. Kaleida Health needed our help to keep the project on track."

Wrapping It All Up
End user training was a significant component, since Kaleida Health needed to create cards and configure the new system for 20,000 employees and volunteers. With 20,000 people counting on a successful installation to simply do their jobs, timing is everything.

"There were changes made to several of the security, parking, and attendance tracking readers which use the card data," Cornell explains. "We worked feverishly to get the sites up on a schedule, and to keep them on track throughout the process." Card printing started in June 1999. It took about two weeks for equipment installation and operator training, and about 90 days to complete the rebadging process.

Cornell says the program has been well-received by Kaleida Health employees. "The employees were eager to receive their new cards," she explains. "They were pleased with the photo quality. The retake feature is a great advantage that digital photo ID technology has over film-based systems. The operator and employee can see the image before it is saved, increasing the likelihood that high-quality images are captured, stored in the database, and printed on the cards. Employees are more likely to wear ID cards when the photos are flattering. How many times have you noticed a facility where everyone seems to wear their ID badges backwards? It's usually not by accident."

Nancy Senger