Page 30 - Campus Security & Life Safety, May/June 2020
P. 30

“Above and beyond other considerations, hospitals must be able to track and locate critical equipment or resources while also monitoring all the people entering secure areas and their reasons for doing so.”
By Steve Connor
Hardening Security
Healthcare end-users must be aware of their options to
Healthcare Campus
Hospitals are where people go to seek treatment, recover and address critical injuries. It’s the place where doctors, nurses, and other healthcare providers devote themselves to helping people who need medical attention. In addition to this critical focus, a hospital also has to protect against unauthorized access, theft of medications or sensitive patient information, and guard against workplace violence, which affects hospitals more than other industries. At the same time, they must maintain a level of accessibility and openness, which presents difficulties as it relates to security.
The healthcare market has a range of specific physical security requirements that make it challenging to provide complete protection for a hospital. Pharmacies and pharmaceutical storage areas need to remain secure against unauthorized personnel with systems in place that recognize and track which employees are entering and why.
Numerous secure zones in a hospital need access control, such as quarantined areas or secure wards. All of this is complicated by the fact that healthcare facilities are often fast-paced environments. Doctors and nurses need quick and easy access to areas during emergencies.
When dealing with an environment as complex as a hospital, it’s crucial to understand the many facets that go into hardening the security of the facility, while simultaneously maintaining an open environment dedicated to patient care. Every business needs to do what it can to stand apart from others in the industry, so a heightened understanding of the total security needs for a healthcare institution will better prepare end-users to invest in technology that will provide safety, both now and in the future.
How Access Fits
Whether it’s in the heat of an emergency or simply going about a normal day, hospital employees must have frictionless access requiring minimal user interaction to secure areas that they are authorized to enter. This fact requires identity management and access control systems that are easy to use, fast and reliable.
Various smart card readers and access control solutions, using RFID, NFC, or UHF technologies, can be implemented to fit this environment. The locking mechanisms that are chosen for hospital entryways should incorporate these same aspects.
The doors that need to be protected in a hospital can vary greatly in their needs for locking mechanisms and access systems, ranging from external-facing entryways to smaller cabinets that contain sensitive pharmaceuticals. These could be implemented as new areas of a hospi- tal are constructed or they might need to be retrofitted onto current rooms to replace outdated equipment. In any case, the solutions need to work well with the hospital’s needs and current systems.
HIPAA laws are very much on everyone’s minds for hospitals and anything healthcare and are often the driving force behind technol- ogy adoption. While access control systems do not contribute direct- ly to the protection of cyber-based patient information, they can harden the security of rooms that patients don’t need access to.
maintain an open, yet secure, environment
For example, clerical offices where protected records are located should receive higher levels of security than the cafeteria. By only giving access rights to necessary individuals, this eliminates other individuals from coming in contact with sensitive information that they don’t necessarily need access to — nurses, doctors and interns. Hardening administrative offices and medical billing, and providing credentials only to people who need to access those areas, provides the means by which hospitals can leverage physical security to protect HIPAA-compliant records.
In addition to monitoring employee access rights, hospitals also need to track critical assets to ensure they haven’t been lost or stolen. This can include tracking where wheelchairs and gurneys are stored on the cam- pus or tagging packages that are at high risk of theft, such as medication like painkillers. These and other customizable applications can be accomplished by using RFID and NFC tags. The same solutions can be used to monitor the location of infants or patients at risk for wandering.
Smart card credentials and readers can handle allowing or denying access, but they are even more powerful and agile when paired with a physical access management platform. These platforms can track movements and easily change parameters around access for certain users or times of the day. The specific needs for access points, which may change over time, could impact the locking mechanism needed for one doorway or another throughout a hospital environment.
Installation Needs For Healthcare
Healthcare facilities require as little down time as possible at their entryways to secure areas. When an access path is taken out of com- mission, it ideally should be for as short a time as possible. Exploring wireless locks is one way to speed up an install and cause less disrup- tion for both doctors and patients.
Wireless locks can be implemented into doors easier and faster than their wired counterparts, which expand the areas of interruption and increase installation times. Hospital employees need to be allowed quick and easy access around a hospital to best help their patients.
Kobkit Chamchod/
30 | MAY/JUNE 2020

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