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How Point-to-Point Encryption (P2PE) Can Reduce PCI Scope for Medical Institutions

Hospitals and medical institutions face increasing challenges and scrutiny when it comes to processing payments and maintaining PCI compliance. Some of these challenges are very unique to the medical ecosystem, where there are often several business processes and units to account for and secure without disrupting operations. Fortunately, implementing a PCI Validated Point-to-Point Encryption (P2PE) solution can streamline security and reduce PCI scope, resulting in cost savings that far outweigh the cost of implementation.

Unique Challenges for Medical Institutions

Securing payment card data is no easy feat, particularly for medical institutions. It is not uncommon for doctors office and hospitals to have multiple payment processors or acquirers as well as disparate financial processes and technologies across multiple units. It can be a cumbersome process to ensure all those siloed units are adhering to the appropriate PCI compliance standards and keeping sensitive cardholder data secure. Some of the biggest challenges include:

Resources – Becoming and remaining PCI compliant can be expensive. In addition to financial constraints, finding highly skilled security professionals that can maintain PCI compliance across a multi-unit medical environment can be challenging. As technologies continues to evolve, updating legacy systems to meet new security standards requires significant capital investments – in purchasing new solutions and ensuring they are implemented correctly.

Legacy Systems – This challenge stretches far and wide as universities and colleges with multiple business units may have each of them on flat networks to optimize up-time, with an eye on security coming second. The result is overwhelming PCI scope as data is spread out across disparate systems and technologies. The cost of upgrading these systems can be a huge barrier

Education – Educating staff on key security policies, procedures and potential threats can be difficult, especially for medical insitiutions where staff is spread out across multiple units on multiple campuses. It’s essential for everyone along the payments chain – from cashiers to senior management – to understand the reasoning and ramifications of security procedures as well as the necessary steps to keep card data secure.

Despite these challenges, PCI compliance is not optional. The ability to process payments depends on it. In a time when major data breaches are almost a daily occurrence, it is especially important for to remain vigilant in PCI compliance. It may be expensive, but the alternative can be even costlier. Non-compliance can overshadow the cost of updating security systems in the form of fines and fees – and data breaches can cost millions in penalties and reputational damage.

Reducing PCI Scope with P2PE

P2PE can solve for many of these challenges by seamlessly security cardholder data and significantly reducing PCI scope. The first step is becoming educated on the PCI standard for P2PE and understanding the applications for the medical institutions environment.

The Validated P2PE standard dictates that the payment data must be encrypted at the point-of-interaction and decrypted entirely outside of the merchant’s environment (at offsite data centers or the cloud). This ensures that no sensitive cardholder information passes through the merchant’s POS in an unencrypted state. This segmentation of card data from the POS and network enables merchants to reduce PCI scope, eliminating many controls that need to be managed and documented. This transaction framework can to all payments methodologies – from EMV, NFC and online to credit and debit. The technology allows medical institutions to accommodate online, offline and emerging payments technologies, providing multi-channel security.

There are several benefits that may compel medical institution merchants to employ P2PE solutions:

  • Using PCI-validated P2PE reduces PCI scope significantly, shrinking the PCI Self-Assessment Questionnaire from 12 sections to 4 sections and reducing the controls from 329 questions to only 35.
  • Hospitals can effectively reduce IT infrastructure and staff needed to monitor and maintain secure and compliant workstations
  • Hospitals experience greater efficiencies across all departments and business units as P2PE solutions can serve mixed-processing environments, including call center, online and face-to-face transactions

Point-to-Point Encryption (P2PE) is one of the cornerstones to data security. This technology enables medical institutions merchants to lower risk as well as reduce PCI scope, saving time and money. It can mean the difference between hundreds of thousands of dollars when implemented correctly.

Maintaining PCI compliance is an ongoing task as regulations and compliance standards are living, breathing things. It requires sharing the responsibilities of payments security across key stakeholders and business units. Working with a trusted payments partner who has experience working with medical institutions can save time and resources. It’s highly recommended to find a partner who has a thorough understanding of PCI compliance and who can design and implement payment solutions that help reduce or eliminate PCI scope altogether.

Are you looking for help reducing PCI scope? Send us a note at [email protected].


Arrow Payments works tirelessly with medical institution merchants to keep sensitive customer information safe. Your data security is our top priority and we employ our validated point-to-point encrypted standalone terminals, payment gateways, and integrated point-of-sale systems to ensure your institution’s payment processing operations remain modern, cost-effective and secure. We work with large, multi-functional, multi-campus institutions to streamline and accommodate the needs of each business unit without interrupting business processes.

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