Turning to the Cloud
Healthcare Organizations Turn to Video Surveillance to Improve Patient Care and Operations, as Well as Security
- By Ken Francis
- Aug 02, 2021
The ability to reliably and quickly access video from anywhere at any time is something healthcare organizations have come to rely on. There are so many different examples: a nurse does a quick video check-in on NICU infants from the hallway nurses’ station, a security manager responds to a “door opened” alarm in the pharmaceutical area, or a security officer gets additional information for situational awareness when there’s a disturbance in the emergency room.
Remote Access in Healthcare
Remotely accessing video is routine in healthcare. And increasingly, healthcare security and IT departments are opting for cloud video surveillance to help them keep eyes on their people, operations and property.
While premises-based video surveillance and access control have long played a key role in safeguarding facilities, the healthcare C-Suite is starting to recognize the benefits of cloud; cloud video surveillance extends those basic capabilities of premises-based to provide data to improve operations, reduce maintenance, and it help the organization run securely and smoothly. VSaaS (video surveillance as a service) is becoming the preferred delivery method for security and surveillance technology. Cloud doesn’t have the limitations of the older technology and it’s much more cost effective.
Healthcare organizations of all kinds, from large hospitals to multisite clinics to senior care facilities, are looking for many of the same benefits. Of course, patient or resident care and safety come first. But there also is loss prevention, physical safety promotion and equipment performance monitoring. Thankfully, cloud video surveillance has brought with it video and data retention solutions that are both smart and sustainable.
The strict compliance and safety requirements for employees and patients, along with on-premises items, such as controlled substances, patient records, and expensive equipment, present numerous challenges for healthcare facility operators and their security teams.
Experts in the cloud video surveillance market, such as Eagle Eye Networks, understand the unique and dynamic issues facing healthcare facility leaders, and have designed cloud-based video management systems that provide a robust suite of offerings to meet healthcare facilities’ needs without having to worry about bandwidth and video data retention.
From safety to service and more, here are a few ways operators in the healthcare space are leveraging their VSaaS systems to enhance security and monitoring capabilities.
Remote Access via Mobile Device or Laptop
Healthcare facilities face many challenges when it comes to ensuring patient safety, protecting restricted areas, and ensuring liability protection. Facilities can use laptops, as well as mobile devices (generally both iOS and Android), to remotely access cameras for easier monitoring of high-risk patients, secure areas, and transient movement.
The nurses’ station is often the central hub of a hospital floor. Due to rising patient-to-nurse ratios in healthcare facilities across the country, nurses are often tasked with monitoring care for multiple patients simultaneously.
According to a Marshall University study, high patient-to-nurse ratios were associated with an increase in hospital mortalities that could be caused by patient infections, bedsores, pneumonia, cardiac arrest, and accidental death. Alarm fatigue is also a growing concern with high-risk patients. Ensuring patient safety is a top priority for healthcare facilities and deploying video surveillance technology can provide additional support for facilities that are short-staffed. When a nurse is caring for multiple patients at a time, he or she needs eyes and ears in every room to ensure safety and to act quickly. Nurses and the patients they treat are benefiting significantly from monitoring stations that provide visibility into several patients’ rooms at once.
IT Support Taken Care of by Cloud Provider
While traditional video management systems require regular updates and improvements, with a cloud video surveillance system, management of the system is done remotely by the cloud provider. The healthcare facility pays a monthly subscription for the system’s management and regular upgrades, greatly reducing the demand placed on internal IT and security teams.
This means the healthcare facility does not need to hire additional IT specialists saving money that can be spent on patient care. There is continuous delivery of cybersecurity safeguards, and additional features to the system via the cloud.
Importantly, the healthcare organization can add or reduce the number of cameras, adjust retention times, and make other changes at any time. The system is flexible and can scale up or down according to the needs of the healthcare facility.
Access to Recorded Video and Liability Implications
Security implications present challenges for healthcare facilities, as well. Larger facilities need to properly monitor expansive physical spaces, as well as numerous restricted areas, including newborn intensive care units (NICUs), operating rooms, and pharmaceutical storage areas.
Additionally, supplies and materials are better managed and understood with access to live and historic video footage. A report from 2020 revealed tens of thousands of cases of unexplained inventory in healthcare facilities across the United States. Another report from the Journal of Hospital Medicine showed that drug theft in hospitals continues to increase.
Video surveillance adds an extra layer of security to healthcare facilities by deterring theft and unauthorized access. Additionally, remote video surveillance systems lessen the risk of human error, and — with the help of artificial intelligence (AI) — provide better insight and liability protection surrounding critical business areas.
True cloud systems also easily integrate with best-in-class cloud-based access control systems. They do not require a healthcare facility to purchase proprietary camera systems that lock the facility into one vendor and fewer options. They’re open by nature, and able to integrate with dozens of technology partners to provide a customized system that’s just right for the hospital, clinic, or other type of care facility.
Video Retention Made Easy With the Cloud
Regulations for video retention at healthcare facilities differ based on sev
eral factors, including location (laws vary by state), type of facility, as well as facility size. Depending on the healthcare facility and its management, they may also want to retain video for longer than the minimum requirement, as video evidence can be critical for liability protection.
With cloud video surveillance, there’s no need to buy and install new hardware when video retention requirements change. As mentioned above, it’s easy to adjust the video retention in real time, right from your system’s dashboard.
The Technology Available Today is Only Getting Better
Ultimately, the goal of healthcare facilities is to create a safe and welcoming environment for patients and visitors, and to maintain a high level of security and care. Where the benefit of a cloud-based video management system truly comes into play is in its inherent ability to learn, advance and scale to the organization it’s servicing. The good news is, systems are getting smarter, faster, and better every day.
In a critical and rapidly evolving industry like healthcare, it’s comforting to know cloud video surveillance systems can support the important work of our dedicated healthcare professionals, safeguarding facilities, providing valuable data to healthcare organizations, and most importantly, constantly improving the ability to care for patients and residents.
This article originally appeared in the July / August 2021 issue of Security Today.