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Integration the remedy for best healthcare security

Integration the remedy for best healthcare security
The global healthcare market is one of the largest and most important in the world economically. The significance of this sector means the importance of security cannot be underscored enough. Securing healthcare facilities, patients, staff, data and assets are all of paramount interest.

The global healthcare market is one of the largest and most important in the world economically. Global healthcare spending is projected to increase at an annual rate of 4.1 percent in 2017 to 2021, reaching US$8.7 trillion by 2020, according to the 2018 Global Health Care Outlook published by Deloitte. This number is up from just 1.3 percent in 2012 to 2016.

The significance of this sector means the importance of security cannot be underscored enough. Securing healthcare facilities, patients, staff, data and assets are all of paramount interest. To do this requires a comprehensive security solution, one with solid access control, video surveillance and other systems, all put in place to protect and secure everyone and everything within and around a facility. ​

The need for integration

The integration of disparate systems is important to any security plan. A fully integrated system may combine access control, video surveillance, video management, intruder detection, fire detection, tracking devices and HVAC, all while providing a single management interface for the end user.

Because healthcare sites tend to be large and complex, with multiple different groups of users, Thomas Schulz, Marketing and Communications Director of Digital and Access Solutions for EMEA at ASSA ABLOY, advised locks should ideally integrate with a comprehensive building management system which includes fire detection, video surveillance and so on, giving facility managers a single interface to work from.

James Ford,
Director of Global Marketing,
Stanley Product and Technology

"By installing integrated solutions, healthcare facilities will find it easier to maintain an appropriate level of security and staff safety without incurring large overheads,” said Barbara Johansson, Global Solution Marketing Manager of Education and Healthcare at Axis Communications. “An integrated security system will provide more than one sensor through which security operators can assess and discover any potential or current threat taking place. It is important that hospitals gain more control on who can access certain areas and can investigate security breaches should the need arise.”

Kim Loy, Director of Technology and Communications at Vanderbilt, expressed how with an integrated system in place, healthcare facilities can shift their focus from reacting to each alarm or alert that comes in to what truly is important: patient care. “An integrated system can bring all of the sensors into a single place to be analyzed and addressed by an operator so that time isn’t wasted trying to access multiple systems to gain more situational awareness of an incident,” she said.

James Ford, Director of Global Marketing at Stanley Product and Technology, pointed out that although a healthcare facility will usually have physical security components such as video surveillance, access control and alarms, if these are managed as separate systems, it will be difficult to get an overview of all the information they produce. “This, in turn, leads to a higher risk of not being able to respond to an event in the most efficient way and unnecessary expenses related to the operational inefficiency. Collecting information on one united platform gives a comprehensive overview of all activities and increased confidence that the correct actions will be performed in order to prevent an unwanted event,” he said.

"One of the real benefits of this is that it allows personnel to be proactive rather than reactive in terms of how they react to actionable insights and the combination of technology and human interfacing has proven to be highly effective in healthcare environments,” added Ford.

Barbara Johansson,
Global Solution Marketing Manager,
Education and Healthcare,
Axis Communications


The implementation of security systems does not come without challenges, and in a healthcare setting the challenges are many.

Since healthcare facilities are open establishments where anyone can walk in and get help, the possibility of aggressive, violent behavior by patients and visitors is a real wild card. “Aggressive behavior from a minority of patients or visitors poses a real and serious danger to staff, especially when around sharp objects such as needles or scalpels,” Johansson said. “Healthcare professionals can come under threat from any patient that may be acting irrationally due to pain or intoxication, that suffers from mental health issues, that is angry or there for a reason other than getting better, for example stealing drugs or from members of the public walking in to cause trouble.”

Budget, as always, is another challenge. Healthcare facilities don’t always have the biggest security budgets; therefore, it becomes imperative to minimize expenditures while maximizing results.

"As healthcare costs rise and hospitals are pinched to cut costs, often times in the form of staffing and equipment, many healthcare organizations are centralizing communications functions within a multi-disciplinary call-taking and dispatching center,” Chad Parris, President of Security Risk Management Consultants (SRMC) said. “Such organizations are seeking better ways to be more efficient with how security technologies are deployed and ultimately managed and monitored as these systems are growing exponentially within the organizations. System integrations whether with video, access control, intrusion detection and emergency call devices with pre-developed workflows eases the burden on operators to allow for more efficient and effective processing of alarms and other security related matters.”

When comparing expenditure on security to that of other building services, Ford noted “it should always be remembered that, first and foremost, a security system is a vital part of a building’s health and safety infrastructure.”

"Like in most other areas, budget allocation for security will usually be based on a proposed return on investment,” Ford said. Technologies that are future-proof, modular and can operate over an open protocol are therefore more attractive when it comes to spending. Additionally, “Embarking on an integration program that can utilize legacy security equipment such as a cameras and cabling, but which offers the potential to upgrade components at a later date, offers a degree of flexibility. It also limits upfront capital expenditure and ensures that by facilitating a simple migration path to the latest technological advancements, any initial investment is protected.”

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