Technology can improve patient care and safety in hospitals

Today’s security technology is capable of solving many problems in the healthcare sector. From security teams using access control systems to know exactly where equipment, patients, and staff are located and which doors are being accessed, to whether or not building capacity is being respected.

The data can then be shared with planning, design, and construction teams to ensure that the future of healthcare institutions is meeting the needs of patients as well as healthcare workers. 

Today’s healthcare challenges

Healthcare workers are subject to workplace violence more than any other sector. In fact, many healthcare facilities report that over half of nurses have experienced abuse, harassment, or assault within the first year of working. The sources of violence range from patients, visitors, to hospital staff - and there is a growing concern of violence that goes unreported. 

Another challenge facing healthcare facilities is a wandering patient. This is very common among Alzheimer's, dementia, and autism patients who can easily become distracted or confused.

Doctor speaking to an elderly patient

Technology designed to protect the patient experience

A growing sector in the healthcare industry is real-time location services (RTLS) for equipment and patient tracking.

Every patient is tagged with an active tag upon admission, which gives the security team real-time knowledge of where every patient is at any moment. The security team also receives instant notifications if a patient wanders out of a pre-determined area.

Nurses and other staff members can also be equipped with active tags and can simply press a button on their active tag if there is a threat of danger, which immediately alerts the security team.

Another application gaining popularity is thermal cameras. These cameras measure the temperature of a target, which gives you the visual context of what’s going on inside without infringing on privacy. Thermal cameras can be configured to alert the operator if a patient falls off a bed for instance.

How technology can help during COVID-19

During the pandemic, a lot of healthcare institutions have found creative ways to use technology to respond to the crisis.

SIP-based communication is being used by nurses to communicate with patients. Nurses can use these cameras as an intercom to initiate calls with patients instead of physically interacting with them. These virtual patient rounds mean nurses don’t have to remove gloves, scrubs, or any other garment when in contact with a COVID-19 patient.

Healthcare facilities can also create contagion reports. Using access control or RTLS infrastructure, they can know which patient an employee has been in contact with, which door they used, and then contact those people.

One of our challenges has been to convert a drug diversion solution into a personal protective equipment (PPE) diversion solution. Traditionally, PPE was not worth tagging with active tags, as hospitals did not need to know the real-time location of a mask for instance. Now, more than ever, PPE is in high demand.

Genetec has helped create an honor-based dispensary system where hospital staff present their Nurse using the honor-based dispensary system'badge to a kiosk to access the cabinet or door of an inventory room where PPE and other equipment are stored. This helps the security department from a forensic analysis standpoint as it speeds up their ability to uncover potential theft trends every time a badge is swiped.

Healthcare security teams are using incident management systems to guide them through each step of an incident using codified digital standard operating procedures.

After an incident occurs, the security team can then use digital evidence management to share evidence to external stakeholders such as, law enforcement, which simplifies reporting and increases accountability.

Looking ahead

Security is making a shift away from simply protecting people and assets to helping other departments figure out more operationally efficient ways to do their job.

Security teams will use greater analytical tools that are catered to healthcare facilities, to help enforce policy and guide decisions.

Healthcare facilities are looking at how others have evolved their security practices, asking important questions about what they envision for their security teams, and if there are better ways to enhance the patient experience.

As you’re thinking about your vision for healthcare security, check out this podcast that we recorded with Brine Hamilton.

Listen to the podcast

About the Author

Derek Arcuri

Derek Arcuri, Team Lead, Industry & App Marketing

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