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The most critical hospital security concerns and requirements after COVID-19

The most critical hospital security concerns and requirements after COVID-19
Security concerns at hospitals now are visitor management with better access control systems, people flow and counting, and technology to support contact tracing.
Many hospitals and healthcare facilities worldwide are facing unprecedented challenges ever since COVID-19 began. As they start to look at the new normal and identify opportunities for change, upgrading or implementing new integrated security and life safety systems may be a priority for many.

The most pressing security concerns at hospitals now are the need to manage the visitors better with better access control systems, people flow and counting solutions, as well as how to use technology to support contact tracing. Security managers must also always keep track of regulations that governments frequently update to ensure better protection at health care facilities.

Visitor management

Ross Wilks, Head of Marketing Communications Vanderbilt Industries, explained that COVID-19 has brought about a significant focus on visitors within a healthcare facility, as well as the health and wellbeing of staff entering a facility. Controlling access has become a much larger discussion throughout the pandemic as a means of protecting others from exposure to the virus or infected people. Demand for advanced access control is at an all-time high.

"This means not only access and visitor management but also the ability to grant and restrict access based on certain factors," Wilks said. "For example, pre-entry screening questions have become popular as an added safety and security measure, offering an initial point of contact for incoming people. Tightened security overall is a change in protocol to many healthcare organizations, making it crucial to combine not only technology (like access control and visitor management) with de-escalation training. The technology is needed to bring a multi-layered approach to screening individuals entering the hospital facility who could potentially introduce a significant amount of risk to those within the facility." 

Meeting regulatory requirements

Managing the risks at healthcare facilities requires a finger on the pulse of the continually changing regulatory requirements and on the strategies that healthcare providers have adopted for day-to-day operations, according to Stuart Rawling, VP of Technology and Customer Engagement at Pelco.

"The top priority is always the safety and security of patients and staff," Rawling noted. "Everyone on site is vulnerable during a public health crisis; there's always the possibility that distressed individuals may attempt to exploit the situation and commit disturbing acts targeted at healthcare. From an asset protection standpoint, the constraints that come with limited staff, the constant shifting of valuable medical supplies, and the increased reliance on essential utilities pose additional risks and require enhanced security measures."

Need for better AI analytics

Primarily, what we are seeing is that access to information and flexibility is critical, and the ability to respond quickly is vital. Therefore, you need multiple tools, such as analytics and AI, that can be tied into your response network. Much has already been said about how COVID-19 is prompting a demand to make buildings themselves smarter.

This level of intelligence will be an integral part moving forward as it will enable stakeholders to gain information from various systems and then combine it holistically, according to Alan Stoddard, VP & GM for Situational Intelligence Solutions at Verint Systems. AI will also help propel more collaboration — the days of siloed systems are gone. We need to be able to deliver the data decision-makers with the information they need to respond faster, more effectively, and more efficiently. 

The rising role of security systems in hospitals

Security systems play an essential role when it comes to healthy buildings – beyond traditional physical security needs.

According to David Grant, Director of Marketing for Global Vertical Markets at Honeywell Building Solutions, security cameras and connected sensors situated throughout a healthcare facility can provide insight into how spaces have historically been used to predict where and when occupants interact or congregate. These foot traffic patterns can inform settings for a variety of devices – like ventilation and temperature controls – as well as address compliance with new guidelines like social distancing guidelines.

Security in the time of chaos

Hamish Dobson, Senior Director for Product Management at Motorola Solutions explained that hospitals have a slightly different dynamic compared to other verticals that have had to shut down due to the pandemic.

"Hospitals are busier than ever," Dobson said. "A lot of the security priorities that they had before the pandemic still exist. Hospitals in some areas, as you can imagine, are getting more chaotic as they take care of more patients. Issues such as controlling access to certain areas of the facility, equipment theft, assaults on health care staff, which have all been concerns before are still major concerns now."

But managing the new protocols is the main challenge now, Dobson continued. These revolve around COVID transmission, ensuring compliance with social distancing rules, mask-wearing rules, etc.
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