By far, clinical excellence lies at the core of world-class hospitals; however patient safety and hospital reputation also plays an important role, as indicated in U.S. News’ recent ranking of the nation’s top facilities. Why? Because in order to stay competitive, hospitals can’t afford to be branded as unsafe or unwelcoming to patients, staff, and visitors. Yet, studies alarmingly indicate violent incidents on hospital property are on the rise.
I understand that hospitals have many competing challenges and a fixed budget to meet those needs. But by nature of the environment, patients and hospital visitors may be experiencing fear, pain, worry, and anger, which can quickly turn a safe hospital into a bed of stress, violence, and theft. Every day, there is a new story about crime in hospitals, and I can’t help but think many hospitals could be doing more to provide a safe environment.
Many hospital security systems are comprised of disparate, antiquated systems which don’t communicate well with each other, creating missed opportunities to prevent security incidents before they happen. Today’s security technology can be integrated with building management systems to provide real-time actionable data and audit trails, while also enhancing access control for optimal intrusion detection and digital video surveillance. In addition, integration with real-time location systems (RTLS) can help hospitals keep track of elderly patients, prevent infant abduction, keep an eye on visitors, and track hospital equipment and medications.
Every day we are finding new and innovative ways to use technology to enhance our lives – and hospitals should be no different. With an integrated security management system, hospitals have the tools and information they need to build a preventative rather than reactive security department.
For instance, if a visitor starts to become agitated with emergency room staff, nurses can hit a panic button, which initiates a signal for video surveillance, analytics, RTLS, and access control to work hand-in-hand to notify security officers, locate the source of the alarm, and lock down the area, if necessary.
Now more than ever, we are all keenly aware that we live in an era where we have to be on watch for potential danger as we walk down the street, send our children off to school, and board the airplane. When I step into a hospital, I want to know that I’m safe, and that my family is safe. Inconspicuous cameras, visitor screening and tracking, and tight access control can do a world of good when trying to secure hospitals without instilling fear and anxiety.
And in today’s digital age, patients in many countries have a choice of where they receive healthcare, and hospital security is yet another factor for them to take into consideration when choosing where to head in the event of an emergency or health issue. I am lucky enough to count myself in that category — I have access to local hospitals right next door and world-class hospitals within a 30-minute drive. If my daughter breaks her arm again, will I choose the safer hospital, even if it’s further away? Absolutely.
What do you think? Should hospitals put more emphasis and budget toward revamping existing hospital security systems? Share your thoughts in the comments field below.