Columbus Regional Hospital selects Fortress Technologies to secure wireless medical network used by over 1000 clinicians

Tampa 14 December 2004Columbus Regional Hospital, located in Columbus, Georgia, has deployed the Fortress wireless security solution to safeguard the wireless transmission of patient information. The hospital has migrated from time-consuming paper processes to more efficient electronic tracking of medical records, file folders, X-rays and test results. The secure wireless network has increased efficiency and productivity of clinical staff and, more importantly, improved levels of patient care. With this new system, health care professionals can access the hospital's main network wirelessly to pinpoint patient details as they conduct their daily rounds.

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The Fortress-secured Cisco wireless infrastructure provides the 1000+ member hospital staff with easy access to patient records and allows them to order tests and medication instantly without time-consuming paperwork, but all the accountability required under HIPAA. The electronic medical records approach helps reduce human error and provides instant access to patient chart information in life-threatening situations while, through the Fortress secure wireless deployment, maintaining privacy and confidentiality.

"We selected Fortress because of its award-winning security solution and success in the health care sector, especially addressing HIPAA guidelines", Steve Lewack, director of technical services and communications for Columbus Regional Hospital stated. "Its Three-Factor authentication provides us with additional insurance that only hospital staff will have access to private patient records, a policy that Columbus Regional is committed to honouring."

Currently the hospital has 110 wireless Cisco access points (AP) in the patient area. The last phase of implementation will involve the addition of 60 more APs to cover the doctor lounges, cancer conference centres, medical records, area conference rooms and physician offices. Wireless medical carts will also be piloted in the Fall and are scheduled to go live June 2005.

Columbus Regional's initial transition to a wireless system was driven by health care professionals who wanted to establish a bedside patient-care structure. Rather than implementing a dedicated system in each room, Columbus Regional installed a secure wireless network that offered doctors and nurses more freedom and flexibility at a lower cost. Since the November 2003 deployment, wireless applications have included a physician dashboard and a variety of physician's personal digital assistant (PDA) equipment, all of which must be secured to protect the integrity of care and patient privacy. The Fortress solution supports all of these wireless applications including different PDA vendors/models so the hospital did not have to seek out multiple vendors to support its varying platforms.

Fortress ensures the highest level of security, enabling health care organisations to secure their wireless LANs in compliance with stringent regulatory environments. Fortress protects against hackers that try to intercept important network data, view internal network addresses or interrupt availability through denial-of-service attacks using Layer 2 encryption and its unique Three-Factor Authentication approach, which authenticates access at the network, device and user levels to uphold patient privacy.

"The number of hospitals implementing wireless is growing as more industry leaders like Columbus Regional Hospital, recognize the time-saving features and the flexibility WLAN provides", stated Ken Evans, vice president of product management, Fortress Technologies. "Fortress is dedicated to providing wireless security products that enable health care organisations to take advantage of these benefits without compromising their high standards for patient care and privacy."

Fortress' experience serving the health care market includes large-scale deployments with the Department of Veterans Affairs as well as Carolinas HealthCare, Tampa General Hospital, Wyeth Pharmaceuticals and others.

Columbus Regional Healthcare System is a comprehensive health services network. It includes over 400 inpatient hospital beds, more than 200 long-term care beds, retail community pharmacies, a mobile health unit serving rural and medically underserved areas, the John B. Amos Cancer Center and specialized maternity and paediatrics care.

Fortress Technologies' product family offers flexible, market-proven security to address the risks and vulnerabilities of wireless networks. It is a trusted and easy-to-use security solution that supports and integrates with corporate wired assets and systems to ensure the business integrity demanded by the global 1000, government, financial, and health care organisations. Providing the highest level of commercially available wireless security, Fortress meets the government's rigorous standards for wireless network security under the Federal Information Processing Standards (FIPS 140) validation programme. Fortress also is one of the only companies to offer end-to-end security consistent with the Department of Defense's new directive for wireless devices and use.

Achieving market-leader status through deployments with the DoD, civilian agencies like the VA, and brand-name commercial accounts, Fortress is the recipient of FierceWiFi's "Fierce 15" award for being a top Wi-Fi start-up of 2005, the 2004 Frost and Sullivan "Market Leadership of the Year" award for wireless LAN security and received a 2004 SC Magazine "Readers Trust" award for best wireless security solution. Fortress Technologies is headquartered in Tampa, Florida, with partners and resellers worldwide.


Leslie Versweyveld

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