Seeing Huge Growth

Seeing Huge Growth

There are enormous possibilities in the hospital and healthcare market

Breaches into healthcare facilities—both physical and through the network—are all over the news. Healthcare IT News reports that five of the eight largest healthcare cyber security breaches since 2010 occurred in 2015, so this isn’t a problem that’s going away as technology becomes more sophisticated. The physical security side is just as vulnerable, with more threats from outside becoming prevalent in this space. Both physical and IT security teams are looking for ways to combat these threats through new and innovative technology, staff training, situational awareness and controlling access to healthcare facilities.

NEW AND INNOVATIVE TECHNOLOGY

Access control in particular has advanced significantly to offer healthcare facilities the ability to control access remotely, through mobile applications, confirm identity quickly and easily and program different levels of access for visitors, patients, doctors and staff. The challenge here lies in controlling access to facilities that are open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, 365 days per year.

Integrated systems allow security administrators to program various doors and locks to activate at various times and apply rules based on time of day and shift changes. Sensitive materials, such as pharmaceuticals or surgical equipment, demand an entirely different set of access control standards, which means any solution implemented must be easy to use and scalable to fit growing needs.

A Security Management System (SMS) can be used to integrate a facility’s access control technologies, digital video and alarm monitoring systems into a single, streamlined solution. One advantage to this type of solution is system scalability and flexibility, and its ability to serve multiple sites, which is common for healthcare facilities that have multiple facilities in various geographic locations that require central monitoring of security systems.

Going one step further, hospitals have hundreds—if not thousands—of employees that require varied levels of access based on their roles within the facility. Custom-configurable data management systems that integrate with third-party systems, such as human resources, staff management and event management systems— can help streamline and automate business workflows between systems. Not only do these assist security administrators in ensuring the right people have the right access, it also reduces the workload of system administrators by eliminating costly data entry errors that can potentially result in threats to the safety and security of patients, visitors and staff.

MEETING REGULATIONS AND PROTOCOLS

Safety and security is paramount to hospitals, doctor’s offices and medical facilities alike—and as such, protecting a patient’s identity and personal information falls under the scope of protecting these vital resources. It’s imperative that security administrators implement staff training and plans that help ensure protocols are being met and safety is remaining at top-of-mind.

In regards to access control, implementing an enterprise-wide SMS takes the necessary steps in ensuring certain locations within these facilities remain protected from intruders or unwanted visitors. The features that define an SMS include the ability to lockdown portions of a hospital or doctor’s office during non-office hours or rooms that might store valuable patient data and medical files.

Having a system in place that allows security officials to communicate these rules quickly and efficiently, through an easy-to-use interface is the key to adhering to the rules and regulations that govern healthcare facilities.

Going further, it helps to have these programs on a Web-based platform, which streamlines the process and allows changes to be made by security directors wherever there is Internet access.

INCREASED SITUATIONAL AWARENESS THROUGH MONITORING

Among healthcare and hospital facilities, it is critical for security administrators to remain aware of any alarms that come through the security operations center monitoring system. The integration between access control and video surveillance plays a critical role in the ability of these officials to make quick, effective decisions regarding an emergency situation.

Integrating video data and access control increases situational awareness among a facility’s security teams, allowing them to evaluate potential threats before they become serious. Access control systems can generate alarms such as invalid badges, a door being forced open and doors being held, but coupling those alerts with video allows the operator to make decisions based on what is actually happening without having to dispatch a roving guard to the area of concern. Not only is the action able to be quick and decisive, these guards now can be used for additional coverage in busy lobbies or for bolstering perimeter protection.

CONTROLLING ACCESS TO FACILITIES

There are a number of trends we’re seeing across vertical markets that are highly applicable to the healthcare sector. One of these is the need for facilities to be locked down quickly in the event of an emergency. Security professionals and their teams need access control options that allow lockdowns to occur at the touch of a button. For example, if there is a child that goes missing from a pediatrics wing, security officials must be able to take quick, decisive action and lockdown the hospital or specific areas within the hospital until the situation has been resolved. Another example would be in an active shooter situation where locking down a specific location within the facility could mean protecting lives in other parts of the building.

End users are looking for mobility. Having a mobile application to help grant access, freeze access or change permissions instantaneously is important to security administrators in the healthcare market. Additionally, with large campuses, security teams and professionals need to be able to stay on the move throughout a facility. Mobile applications allow these security officials to control systems remotely without client software in place, which can give healthcare facilities and hospitals the flexibility to provide access as needs change.

Additionally, electronic access-controlled cabinet locks—both for medical files and for use protecting controlled substances—provides hospitals and administrators with the required audit trail in the case of a breach.

The needs of these facilities are constantly changing, and it’s important for manufacturers of various video surveillance, alarm monitoring and access control products to keep these needs at the forefront of technological development. There is a real need for various software platforms and products to “talk” to each other and integrate seamlessly to help build security solutions that not only increase situational awareness before an incident occurs, but allows quick and decisive action to take place as soon as an event is reported.

Taking the needs of the end user into account to build the right system can move the entire security industry forward in what is technically possible in protecting the entire healthcare vertical market.

This article originally appeared in the June 2016 issue of Security Today.

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Digital Edition

  • Security Today Magazine - March 2019

    March 2019

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