IP Video Is The Answer
Nebraska medical center improves safety, cuts costs
- By Courtney Pedersen
- Jun 04, 2012
The Nebraska Medical Center is the largest healthcare facility
in the state, with 624 licensed beds. Administrators
wanted to improve the safety of the facility’s at-risk patients
who require 24/7 observation, while also reducing staff and
The Omaha-based medical center has reduced its overhead
by eliminating the majority of its one-on-one bedside observation
staff. There are a dozen monitoring stations located
throughout the center, and each station allows one or two technicians
to observe multiple patients simultaneously. In just the
first two months of being operational, a new video system installed
at the facility has streamlined the process for monitoring
patients and has saved NMC thousands of dollars.
Nebraska Medical Center
With nearly 5,000 employees and 1,000 physicians, NMC has numerous
departments that run the gamut from pediatrics to oncology
to bio-containment. The staff is responsible for patients of
all types, including some at-risk patients who need around-theclock
Until recently, when a patient required 24/7 observation, the
hospital placed a staff member in the room to keep an eye on
the patient. This was a standard practice for patients who, for
example, were on suicide watch, prone to violent outbursts or in a
critical state of health. Because it is typical for the medical center
to have two or three dozen patients in such condition on a given
day, the one-on-one-watch scenario put a strain on staffing costs.
Recently, the medical center partnered with authorized Milestone
partner Sentrixx Security Solutions to deploy 299 IQinVision
megapixel indoor day/night vandal IP domes and infrared units, as
well as monitoring stations running Milestone XProtect Enterprise
IP video surveillance software.
Maureen Goltl, an operations manager at NMC, was asked to
investigate video monitoring as an option to reduce the facility’s
overhead costs and improve safety.
“Our goal was to ensure patient safety and to reduce costs,”
Goltl said. “We have always had a population of patients who are
confused and agitated—patients who we are not comfortable leaving
alone in their rooms. It was necessary to staff those rooms for
round-the-clock observation. At a time where we needed to reduce
our staffing, installing video monitoring cameras at almost every
bedside was the best option and helped a great deal.”
Goltl organized a large planning team, and by the fall—a mere
eight months later—the system was deployed and operational.
Partnering for Success
With the planning team weighing its options of possible vendors
on this project, it decided to work with Sentrixx, a vendor/partner
that had worked with medical facility officials already and had
a longstanding relationship. Over the years, Sentrixx, a division
of Control Services Inc., had provided building automation solutions,
intercoms, Hugs Infant Protection and other electronic
security devices to the hospital.
In 2009, Sentrixx installed 13 high-resolution Axis IP cameras
in NMC’s adult intensive care unit. These cameras were controlledVMS. They used this as a foundation for planning the new solution
they wanted to deploy.
“We had a set of business requirements,” Goltl said. “We
wanted fixed cameras. We did not want them to record. And we
needed to be able to see a patient at night, in the dark.”
Sentrixx provided a turnkey solution, which handled all the
installation of Dell servers, the cameras and the monitoring stations
“We ran every inch of wire,” said Phil Fenton, manager at
Sentrixx. “They had a timetable because they were able to trim a
significant amount of overhead dollars. We wanted to make sure
their installation deadline was met and that it provided a tested
and working system.”
Sentrixx installed the megapixel indoor day/night vandal IP dome
cameras that provide full, real-time video at 30 fps with a 720p
resolution. These are unobtrusive units that blend into the hospital’s
aesthetic, and they are vandal resistant. Along with each
camera, Sentrixx installed an infrared unit, which was placed separately
because current IP cameras with built-in infrared capabilities
did not offer the high-resolution capabilities required for this
deployment. Sentrixx also installed 10 servers and 12 monitoring
stations, many of which consisted of Dell all-in-one systems.
To house these stations, Sentrixx commissioned Kiewit Construction
to build cabinets that matched the existing environment.
“We created a closed network that allowed each hospital unit
to operate separately,” Fenton said.
Each unit houses a maximum of 42 cameras, and because each
unit operates separately, there is no need for all the cameras to be
available on a single server. Because of this, Fenton determined
NMC required only XProtect Enterprise—the NVR software already
in use elsewhere in the facility—for the deployment. Had
there been a need for all 299 cameras to be available to a single
server, Sentrixx would have recommended XProtect Corporate
“They already had the XProtect Enterprise license, and it was
affordable to load it up on 10 servers,” Fenton said. “What’s really
important to the customer about XProtect is the simplicity of its
user interface and its reliability.”
In the Field
Sentrixx trained a core group of staff members at the medical
center, including Goltl. They quickly learned how to use the software
and perform troubleshooting. Those staff members, in turn,
have trained more staff.
“It’s pretty easy software to figure out, so we haven’t had any
problems,” Goltl said. “As we have new people coming and going,
they really just need to sit down for a few minutes to get training.”
Now, NMC has seven units that are regularly staffed for manning
the monitoring stations. These include two medicine telemetry
units, two surgical units, the solid organs and transplant unit,
the neurology unit and the cardiology unit.
There are a dozen monitoring stations, some of which are
used on a daily basis while others are used only when there is a
need. On average, they monitor about five to six patients per active
monitoring station, with up to 30 patients monitored at any
given moment. This number fluctuates, and they can use XProtect
to quickly activate and deactivate cameras as needed.
“They didn’t need to look at all the cameras all the time,” Fenton
said. The staff needs to see a camera feed only if there is a
concern about a particular patient’s safety. “That was an important
factor. With XProtect, we could take a server for a floor and
put 20 cameras on it. Staff members at the monitoring station
can just pull up the list of cameras in XProtect and drag over the
cameras that they want to see during their shift. In the middle of
the night, they can easily add a camera to the monitoring station
when they need to, which is important in a hospital setting where
patients move around at all hours.”
Discussing the broad set of advanced capabilities, Fenton
described what makes the system right for NMC.
“The software can use smart technology to mask out an area
and send a signal if the person moved beyond that area, but with
the amount of activity in a hospital room, they really needed something
that would be as simple to manage as possible,” he said.
“The video is not really treated as a security surveillance
application,” Goltl said. “It’s a patient care application.”
NMC officials said they already have experienced benefits with
the system. The deployment was fast and easy, and training staff
on XProtect software took practically no time.
It is too early for administrators to put a number on how
much the system has helped in regard to staffing and reducing the
facility’s overall spending, but Goltl said the improvements—and
savings—are evident. “I haven’t seen a dollar amount since it is
so early, but I know we have already saved ourselves thousands
of dollars, and we anticipate recouping the cost of the cameras
within seven or eight months.”
Then there are the people being protected—patients and
sometimes staff members.
“We recently had a patient who was somewhat aggressive and
agitated,” Goltl said. “We placed a person in the room with this
patient, but we also decided to keep them on
the monitor so the person watching the monitor
could tell when the person sitting with that
patient needed help. We wanted to make sure
they were both safe.”
This article originally appeared in the June 2012 issue of Security Today.