Some­body’s watch­ing

Tech­nol­ogy help­ing hos­pi­tals stay safe and se­cure

Modern Healthcare - - INFORMATION EDGE -

Though vis­i­tors at fa­cil­i­ties run by Caroli­nas Health­care Sys­tem might re­al­ize that they’re walk­ing past se­cu­rity cam­eras, most have no inkling of the ad­vanced tech­nol­ogy and an­a­lyt­ics track­ing them.

Be­hind the scenes, an ad­vanced video mon­i­tor­ing sys­tem tracks feeds from dig­i­tal and ana­log cam­eras ar­rayed across the sys­tem’s fa­cil­i­ties in North and South Carolina 24 hours a day, us­ing mo­tion-de­tec­tion and fa­cial-pat­tern-recog­ni­tion al­go­rithms to pro­duce pic­tures of passers-by and notes of when quiet pe­ri­ods are dis­turbed by un­usual ac­tiv­ity.

Bryan War­ren, se­nior man­ager of cor­po­rate se­cu­rity for Caroli­nas Health­care, says the video-an­a­lyt­ics sys­tem made by 3VR re­cently came in handy in fin­ger­ing a thief who had used an old ID badge from a hos­pi­tal con­struc­tion con­trac­tor to go on site and pil­fer $30,000 worth of cop­per.

“We were able to go back, find this per- son, and get a face shot of him,” War­ren says. “We took that back to the con­trac­tor, who said, ‘Hey, that’s so-and-so, he used to work for us and we fired him two weeks ago.’ Case solved.”

Ex­perts say hos­pi­tals in in­creas­ing numbers are de­ploy­ing se­cu­rity and telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions tech­nol­ogy more com­monly as­so­ci­ated with court­houses, banks and 911 dis­patch cen­ters, and they’re be­ing used for far more than nab­bing cop­per thieves. De­ploy­ing more tech­nol­ogy has be­come a com­mon re­ac­tion as se­cu­rity threats in­side health­care fa­cil­i­ties re­main at el­e­vated lev­els.

Sta­tis­tics from the Oc­cu­pa­tional Safety and Health Ad­min­is­tra­tion say hos­pi­tal nurses face more than triple the av­er­age chance of be­ing as­saulted on the job as an av­er­age Amer­i­can worker. Joint Com­mis­sion records show an el­e­vated level of vi­o­lence in health­care fa­cil­i­ties in 2011, one year af­ter the or­ga­ni­za­tion is­sued a Sen­tinel Event Alert for such in­ci­dents in 2010.

Hos­pi­tals are adopt­ing every­thing from re­motely con­trolled ac­cess doors and 21st cen­tury dig­i­tal sur­veil­lance sys­tems to badges and pen­dants that can re­motely track peo­ple’s where­abouts.

Just out on the hori­zon, hos­pi­tal se­cu­rity of­fi­cials are look­ing ahead to ad­vances such as fa­cial-recog­ni­tion soft­ware that can ac­cu­rately com­pare vis­i­tors’ faces to known mug shots and send alerts when spe­cific peo­ple ar­rive on cam­pus, such as es­tranged spouses or past per­pe­tra­tors.

The Holy Grail of hos­pi­tal se­cu­rity, ex­perts say, is a sys­tem that could com­bine ev­ery se­cu­rity-re­lated sys­tem into a sin­gle con­verged en­ter­prise, which, when linked with the IT and hu­man re­sources de­part­ments, could scan for pat­terns or anom­alies and im­prove over­all “sit­u­a­tional aware­ness.”

The down­side is that the growth of these sys­tems can cre­ate a kind of se­cu­rity creep: Megapixel cam­eras gob­ble up band­width that would other­wise be used for pa­tient-care needs, and grow­ing bud­gets for new gad­getry con­sume cap­i­tal funds that would other­wise go to­ward ex­penses such as elec­tronic health records or in­for­ma­tion se­cu­rity.

Be­cause of the need to bal­ance the de­mands on time and re­sources, se­cu­rity of­fi­cials say the ac­qui­si­tion of new se­cu­rity tech­nolo­gies can ex­pose con­flicts and weak­nesses be­tween de­part­ments in a hos­pi­tal.

“A crit­i­cal as­pect of this is the se­cu­rity ad­min­is­tra­tor must work closely with the IT depart­ment, be­cause the IT depart­ment has the re­spon­si­bil­ity to vet all these tech­nolo­gies and make sure they fit into the over­all sys­tem,” says Robert Owles, pres­i­dent at Owles Se­cu­rity Con­sult­ing, Waco, Texas. “There should be a big con­cern if there is a gap in co­op­er­a­tion or com­mu­ni­ca­tion be­tween the di­rec­tor of IT and the di­rec­tor of se­cu­rity.”

Pen­dant se­cu­rity

Though hos­pi­tals once oc­cu­pied a sa­cred place in the minds of Amer­i­cans, health­care fa­cil­i­ties to­day are sub­ject to the same kinds of vi­o­lence and dis­rup­tive be­hav­ior as any com­mer­cial build­ing or school.

That’s why health­care ar­chi­tects start push­ing se­cu­rity needs be­fore the first shov­el­ful of dirt ever flies for a new project.

Scot La­timer, man­ag­ing di­rec­tor of health­care so­lu­tions at real-es­tate man­age­ment firm Jones Lang Lasalle, says health­care fa­cil­i­ties

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