healthcare on guard

Healthcare on Guard

Open platform manages enterprise-wide security operations

healthcare on guardAs the largest healthcare provider in the Twin Cities’ East Metro area, HealthEast Care System is dedicated to offering its patients the highest quality medical services. From prevention to cure, HealthEast meets the needs of the Minnesota community it serves with a blend of traditional medicine and integrative therapies. Critical to meeting these needs is creating a safe and secure healthcare environment for its patients and staff.

Lenel’s OnGuard platform is providing HealthEast with a comprehensive solution to effectively manage its security operations across three acute-care hospitals, a long-term care facility, and 13 primary and specialty-care clinics. From access control to video, identity credentialing to visitor management, OnGuard enables HealthEast to take control of its security needs enterprise-wide.

“When I came here almost three years ago, the security system that was being used was very old, outdated, not well maintained and needed some pretty major updates,” said Mark Johnson, security director for HealthEast. “We needed a modern, state-of-the-art system to match our new state-of-the-art ER at St. Joseph’s Hospital, located in downtown St. Paul.”

To test the OnGuard security platform’s value and performance HealthEast conducted a pilot of the system at St. Joseph’s Hospital, which boasted a newly re-designed emergency department with 23 new rooms: six for resuscitation, 14 “universal” examination rooms and three for triage or minor treatments.

The “racetrack” design of the new ER served as an optimized space for patients and their families, as well as for care providers. However, it also had some security challenges that required a robust and versatile system platform.

“We did a test of OnGuard in a brand new ER environment that was security sensitive, with a potentially high-risk population coming into the ER,” Johnson said. “We trialed the system for nearly a year and after that, the decision was made that new and future installations will be on the Lenel platform.” System-wide integration of OnGuard is occurring across the enterprise, switching all HealthEast hospitals and clinics.

“We needed to be able to control our facilities remotely, if need be, and lock down and open at a moment’s notice,” Johnson said. ”One of the first large projects for us besides the ER at St. Joseph’s Hospital was converting our Bethesda campus to a 100 percent Lenel access control facility to help give us that important capability.

“There’s a lot more integration that we’re looking to do with our fire and elevator systems, including Active Directory for security and integration into our HRIS database.”

Open Platform, Open Future

Throughout its hospitals, clinics and outpatient services, HealthEast is dedicated to offering new technologies and is focused on its future of community service. For security, the open architecture design allows HealthEast to take advantage of the newest and best-of-breed hardware and software technologies, giving the healthcare provider the freedom to integrate cutting-edge, third-party products.

HealthEast required a reliable and efficient total security platform to minimize costs and integrate the solution into its existing infrastructure. By leveraging current and future technology investments, the open architecture design has improved the not-for-profit organization’s security enterprise.

“At St. Joseph’s Hospital, we’re replacing nearly a dozen elevators,” Johnson said. “We’re addressing not just security issues, but also other problems within our facility, which is also a huge cost savings.”

The possibilities are endless for HealthEast to integrate human resource databases, fire and intrusion detection systems, identity solutions, elevator systems and logical access control systems. All of these system interfaces are seamlessly integrated using a single database server and a single user interface for all applications.

“We are looking at integrating the fire system in through Lenel, so our stationed officer, who monitors those alarms, can respond to a life-safety-event fire alarm or smoke detector,” Johnson said. “With a full implementation, we will be going into the active directory account system and the HRIS databases. We’re also looking at moving in the elevator module, as well as ID credentialing.”

OnGuard VideoManager

HealthEast now has a wide range of choices for implementing advanced video solutions. OnGuard VideoManager provides the hospitals and clinics with complete control over all video operations within a seamlessly integrated system.

St Joseph’s Hospital has switched about 40 percent of its access control and a third of its video operations, with more to follow. So far, a total of 245 cameras have been converted.

Combined with Lenel or third-party cameras, OnGuard ensures HealthEast has unlimited possibilities for designing hardware and software video solutions with total integration to meet the unique security needs of individual hospitals and clinics in its care system.

“The benefit is right there in cost savings. It’s also the flexibility and choice when it comes to third-party hardware integration,” Johnson said. “If I want (brand A) camera, I can integrate (brand A) camera. If I want (brand B) camera, I can integrate (brand B) camera. Everyone can determine what is best for their facility. That is what Lenel brings to the table versus a lot of other manufacturers that pigeon hole you into a certain brand that you must use, whether that is an NVR, card reader or camera system.”

Integration with alarm monitoring, access control and other systems enable HealthEast security staff to implement video auditing capabilities, track suspicious behavior, and automate response processes to safety events. OnGuard provides the organization with a single application to monitor all forms of business, building, asset and security alarm and event activity.

“Facilities management now has access to all of our outdoor cameras, so when it snows they can pull up on their iPad or iPhone and see what area needs to be shoveled versus running around an eight-squareblock campus to figure out what areas are most severely impacted by the snow and ice,” Johnson said. “Our nursing staff also uses the system to see who is out in the waiting rooms, and housekeeping uses it to keep the areas clean. It’s not just for security, but for the entire HealthEast care system.”

Secure And Reliable

Among its most recent achievements, HealthEast became the first Twin Cities hospital system to receive Level III trauma designation at all of its full-service, acute-care hospitals: St. John’s Hospital, St. Joseph’s Hospital and Woodwinds Health Campus. This prestigious designation culminated a process to become part of Minnesota’s statewide trauma system. As a result, HealthEast’s hospitals are receiving facilities for any FEMA, HHS or natural disaster events in the area.

Reliability and continuity of operation was also an important factor in HealthEast selecting the OnGuard solution from Lenel. In the healthcare environment, a security system that fails even for a few minutes due to downtime can have disastrous consequences.

With fault tolerant servers, all of HealthEast’s critical server components have backups. If a component fails, the backups kick-in real time, avoiding system shutdown. In addition, multiple servers in a separate off-site HealthEast datacenter serve as backup systems for disaster recovery.

“We are moving this to a virtual server, which will give us more flexibility in a disaster recovery scenario,” said Johnson. “Using Lenel in a virtual environment gives us that flexibility to work at anytime, anywhere, any place.”

HIPAA privacy rules provide federal protections for personal health information and give patients an array of rights with respect to that information. These rules specify a series of administrative, physical and technical safeguards to assure the confidentiality, integrity and availability of electronic protected health information.

Given the importance of HIPAA compliance for HealthEast, it was vital that OnGuard provide a significant measure of security.

This article originally appeared in the June 2013 issue of Security Today.

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