Seeing Huge Growth
There are enormous possibilities in the hospital and healthcare market
- By Mitchell Kane
- Jun 01, 2016
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.
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
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
This article originally appeared in the June 2016 issue of Security Today.