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Hospitals want more of these physical security products to fight COVID-19

Hospitals want more of these physical security products to fight COVID-19
The most important security products for hospitals now are touchless access control, situational awareness, patient room video/audio integration, thermal cameras, and AI video analytics to manage occupancy, loitering, mask compliance, etc.
COVID-19 has heightened demand for security solutions in health care facilities as hospital authorities strive to ensure maximum protection against the virus while providing their usual services.

The most crucial physical security products for hospitals now are touchless access control, situational awareness solutions, patient room video/audio integration, thermal cameras, and AI video analytics to manage occupancy, loitering, mask compliance, etc.

Touchless access control

Frictionless and mobile-based access control is more relevant than ever now, including in the healthcare vertical, according to David Grant, Director of Marketing for Global Vertical Markets at Honeywell Building Solutions. Removing the need for occupants to touch readers, doors, and other access points physically may reduce the spread of viruses and bacteria.

A biometric reader at a staff entrance that is integrated with thermal imaging technology, for example, can detect whether the individual has a temperature to prompt further screening before being allowed to enter the facility. As you can imagine, this is not just a trend in health care but even other verticals like manufacturing.

"These same kind of readers can also detect whether a mask is being worn to help ensure compliance with facility regulations and restrict access to a facility if the mask mandate is not being followed," explained Ross Wilks, Head of Marketing Communications at Vanderbilt Industries.
Additionally, mobile access allows healthcare facility managers to configure and restrict access on an individual occupant and access point basis, according to Grant.

"For example, if there are isolation areas, critical care patients or parts of the building have been exposed to contaminants and access needs to be restricted to that area, mobile applications allow building managers to change credential access quickly," Grant said.

Situational awareness solutions

Hospital customers are also exploring ways in which they can increase situational awareness throughout their businesses and increase intelligent response if and when needed.

Alan Stoddard, VP & GM for Situational Intelligence Solutions at Verint Systems, said that they see more customers interested in AI to streamline intelligent security operations and cloud-based mobile applications that connect security and response teams for a more effective response on the go.

"Overall, the increase in intelligent solutions and mobile applications provides users with greater insight into an event using combined, real-time data," Stoddard said. "During a disruptive activity such as the current pandemic, these types of applications can help organizations remain connected and ensure proactive operations."

Real-time location services

Many healthcare facilities are also now integrating real-time location services (RTLS) to healthcare information systems that can allow facilities to improve their contact tracing abilities. Grant notes that this will help the facilities to know which clinicians have engaged with which patients, as well as which patients have come in contact with each other.

Using RTLS with clinical staff and environmental service workers can also help to identify and manage hand hygiene compliance by tracking if individuals have foamed in and foamed out of specific spaces. These technologies can help to create a safer and healthier environment for staff and patients.

Patient room video/audio integration

Some solutions that are working are installing patient room video and audio and integration with the electronic patient records system, said Paul Baratta, Segment Development Manager at Axis Communications.

"These solutions allow for observing patients, getting needed information from telemetry monitors and allowing clinical staff to reduce the need for personal protective equipment (PPE)," Baratta added. "Clinicians can ‘dial’ into rooms and observe patients, speak to staff in the room, and provide a proactive response to events. Therefore, reducing staff to patient contact and reducing the possibility of contamination or infection."
Stuart Rawling, VP of Technology and Customer Engagement at Pelco, pointed out that to offer a holistic solution, the use of innovative video surveillance technology needs to be part of a layered approach.

"As an initial response to the pandemic, limiting staff-to-patient interactions with live video monitoring has proved beneficial," Rawling noted. "Similarly, positioning cameras to allow nurses to use visual and audio indicators as an added tool for proactive medical assessments can reduce exposure risks while maintaining standards of treatment."

For expanded surveillance with enhanced situational awareness, vendors are also introducing integrations with existing and new technology to leverage the analytics and deep learning capabilities of advanced video management systems.

"As security officers are stretched thin, an integrated VMS solution can serve as a centralized platform so multiple units can be monitored from one location," Rawling continued. "Also, an intelligent VMS can be set up to provide access control and alerts for any anomalies: traffic patterns and density in restricted areas, suspicious visitors or incidents in parking areas, and tampering with or unauthorized entry into mechanical rooms, water tanks, gas tanks, or medical storage."

Thermal cameras

Temperature monitoring solutions have become an integral part of the fight against COVID-19. While many businesses are happy using IR temperature guns, thermal cameras provide a better touchless fever detection method.

"Some healthcare facilities have been experimenting with thermal cameras to capture surface temperatures of people," Baratta said. However, this has mostly been a failure in many places due to not having proper technology, setting expectations to the solution, calibration issues, training of staff, and creating reliable and consistent policies and guidelines around this solution. 

One of the factors that many customers are still not aware of is that you would need an AI-supported thermal camera for best results. Click here to read about why AI is important for thermal cameras to detect body temperature accurately.

AI analytics in hospitals

Video analytics tools are also being deployed in healthcare settings to improve ward management and to ensure patient safety and security.

"For example, loitering detection is being used to protect vulnerable areas within hospitals, such as locations where drugs and equipment are stored, as well as to keep better watch over external areas, including perimeters, and car parks," said Phil Campbell, European Sales Director at Quanika. "AI-assisted alerts are being used to warn of risks such as ice, to allow timely action by maintenance teams to grit car parks and external walkways mitigating the risk of car accidents and personal injury." 

Campbell added that AI analytics are also being used to optimize queue management in emergency rooms, and to monitor occupancy and crowd density levels, alerting security teams to bottlenecks or when spaces and facilities risk reaching safe occupancy limits. Intuitive dashboards provide at-a-glance real-time views of the status of single or multiple facilities, as well as reporting tools providing alerts for occupancy levels and rule violations by time, day, and month. 
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