Lock Down Your Healthcare Customers' WLANs
This VAR's wireless security installation paves the way for future opportunities providing electronic medical records solutions.
VAR/systems integrator iNet Strategy takes the concept of keeping customers for life seriously. One example of a long-term satisfied customer is Tennessee Orthopedic Alliance (TOA). TOA is a 64-physician practice with 10 locations in central Tennessee. The orthopedic practice routinely performs physical therapy and surgeries, and it uses digital X-rays and MRIs (magnetic resonance images) that can be accessed by clinicians via wireless laptops and tablet PCs.
iNet Strategy has been the primary network service provider for TOA for the past several years. Recently, the VAR migrated its customer's Windows NT domains to a single Active Directory site, making it easier for TOA's IT department to maintain. The move also helped the customer eliminate multiple outdated servers. "During the upgrade, the customer brought to our attention a Windows XP pop-up message that often appeared on its wireless devices," says Robert Morris, president and COO at iNet Strategy. The message alerted users that Windows XP detected the presence of additional wireless networks in the area. Not wanting to take any chances with sensitive data getting into the wrong hands, TOA asked iNet Strategy to perform a network assessment.
After scanning the campus for rogue access points (APs) and running a traffic analysis on TOA's network, the VAR determined that multiple companies close to TOA's network were broadcasting wireless signals into the TOA campus network. The VAR recommended a lightweight WLAN (wireless LAN) solution to resolve the potential security vulnerability. The wireless network security solution included SonicWALL SonicPoint lightweight APs and a SonicWALL PRO 3060 firewall. The overall cost of the WLAN project was about $5,000 for the SonicWALL gear and an additional $2,000 in installation fees.
An Application Integration Price Break Leads To A Bigger Service Contract
An additional service the VAR provided was HL7 (health level 7) application interface integration. "HL7 is the application layer interface standard for the healthcare industry, comparable to the EDI [electronic data interface] formatting standard," says Morris. "Most healthcare VARs charge the end customer a one-time fee for each inbound and outbound application connection plus a recurring annual maintenance fee." Some VARs, including a large healthcare VAR competitor of iNet Strategy's, add premiums on top of the cost of the interface, which bumps the price up thousands of dollars per interface. "By using a middleware application and not inflating the cost of the interface, we saved TOA about $35,000," says Morris.
To complete the installation, iNet Strategy worked with the customer to implement Fujitsu LIFEBOOK tablet PCs, which include integrated 802.11g wireless cards. The new WLAN gives the customer better security, and it also provides better bandwidth compared to their previous 802.11b WLAN. "All the security — including encryption, intrusion detection/prevention, and antivirus — is handled by the PRO 3060, which is located in the data center," says Morris. "Each lightweight AP's IP [Internet Protocol] address must be programmed into the PRO 3060 in order to be recognized by the firewall. If someone tries to set up a rogue AP that is not recognized by the firewall, it will automatically shut out the unauthorized device and send an alert to the SonicWALL Global Management System log server for an administrator to review."
By opting not to charge the customer extra for the HL7 API (application programming interface) and the tablet PCs, iNet Strategy was able to help TOA realize a return on its investment in less than one year. The VAR benefited by expanding its service contract with the orthopedic practice. It is also in a good position to be the primary service provider for the customer's next IT initiative, which is an EMR (electronic medical records) solution. "By 2009, all medical facilities will be required to use EMRs instead of paper-based medical records," says Morris. "The wireless network security solution we implemented for TOA will help it make the transition much more easily."