Healthcare and hospital security is no easy task. Integrated security systems must work together to protect patients, doctors, and visitors as well as medications, equipment, and data. Security cameras, access control points, and alarms must all work together to keep the building secure without hampering the flow of operations. To top it all off,these systems need to be just visible enough to make people feel safe without making them feel threatened. It’s a delicate balancing act that takes a lot of forethought and planning before installation.
1. Surveillance Cameras
Hospitals and healthcare facilities have additional challenges with security cameras, since they have to follow federal HIPAA regulations. External CCTV cameras obviously don’t violate the laws, but indoor cameras must be carefully placed in public areas to avoid breaching patient confidentiality. Most hospitals and doctor’s offices have signs in the waiting rooms, lobbies, storage closets, equipment and medicine storage areas, and hallways that indicate visitors are being recorded or monitored. Recordings made in operating or treatment rooms, on the other hand, could very well contain protected health information (PHI) that must be specially stored and transmitted, if at all.
2. Access Control
Integrated hospital security often ties access control with security cameras very closely. Security staff will be able to see who is going where, and 2-way audio lets guards confer nearly face-to-face with those who need to enter. Prox card readers and electric door locks can also limit wandering patients to smaller areas so they can be found easier, reducing potential damage and injury to everyone. They’re also convenient for operating rooms or other sterile areas, since doctors and nurses that have already scrubbed in don’t have to touch their card to enter – simply getting the card or badge near enough will unlock the door.
3. Alarms, Sirens and Alerts
Hospitals have more emergency contingencies and alarms than your average building, so the sensors cover more potential emergencies. It’s best to tie them into the access control system as well, ensuring that during an emergency the doors can be locked or unlocked as needed. The unique alarms for healthcare facilities, including radiation, contamination, and fire alerts, must be carefully installed and maintained to provide safe evacuation and lockdown in an emergency. Call buttons for the patient rooms function similarly, and can’t be overlooked, either.
4. Integrating Hospital Security
Tying all of these systems together is tricky, but it can and should be done at installation. Many Video Management Systems integrate entire security systems, giving you a powerful platform to work from. Whether you use a VMS or not, you’ll need software packages to manage your systems as well as your secure data servers. HIPAA-relevant data like patient records must be stored and transmitted under special rules, so healthcare facilities need specially secured data servers to house and transfer files. Cyber security is just as important for hospitals as physical security, and is best installed at the same time to take advantage of the shared structured cabling.