Integrate your security measures
By Kevin Weeks, September 2012
From medical records to video surveillance equipment, technology utilized across healthcare institutions is rapidly migrating to a centralized network.
Healthcare facilities are no longer viewed as safe havens by much of the public. Hospital doors are open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year to help people who are physically or mentally ill or grieving. Unfortunately, this type of open-door policy can lead to many risky situations. As a result, administrators are increasingly aware of the need for enhanced security technologies to support a safe environment for patients and workers alike.
Hospital IT, biomedical engineering, facilities management and security executives must collaborate to perform regular risk assessments and develop aligned solutions, while maximizing their ability to squeeze out as much ROI as possible from network infrastructure investments, streamline processes and eliminate redundancies.
From medical records to video surveillance equipment, technology utilized across healthcare institutions is rapidly migrating to a centralized network. The result is that departments must collaborate more to effectively manage resources and processes, while ensuring patients receive quality care. A facility’s technological evolution to the centralized network provides an opportunity to assess systems and processes across the board, especially when it comes to security technology that may have previously operated in a vacuum.
Migrating to a centralized network doesn’t happen overnight, and some hospitals are further along than others. Typically, tension often exists between the security and IT departments when it comes to implementing security technology that relies on a network. Most IT executives have a rigorous process for making large technology decisions, which includes evaluating the systems, assessing the financial costs and determining how the project will impact the infrastructure. On the other hand, security executives tend to move quickly, sometimes with a “come in today and install tomorrow” approach, which is often incident driven. However, moving quickly may significantly impact the comprehensive audit a complex environment, such as a large facility, requires. By working together, IT and security executives can promote their value and ultimately present a well-thought-out business case to justify investments and collaboration.
Though it may be challenging to measure the ROI of security, security technology can support the overall business goals of a facility. While it may not directly relate to improved patient care or increased referrals, taking the proper security measures can help reduce costs by providing valid evidence around legal issues, monitoring workplace violence situations, documenting compliance, observing theft and more. The theft of equipment and supplies alone costs hospitals $4,000 per staffed bed each year.
By nature, the U.S. healthcare industry is a constantly increasing, inflationary model. As a result, a large capital investment in automation that improves operational processes may be overlooked for smaller incremental expenses. Security infrastructure investments must be planned out to determine how capital can be allocated. Purchases and upgrades can often be made incrementally over several years in order to spread out expenses and maximize the use of existing technology.
In addition, hiring decisions must be accounted for when migrating to a centralized network. Currently, there are a number of healthcare facilities with IT staffs that are overwhelmed and understaffed. The HIT industry, in general, has found itself woefully short on expertise to implement and integrate. By collaborating efforts from the different departments, the healthcare facilities can cut back on the number of employees on each project and focus on the technology that will ultimately lead to a greater investment and increase of ROI.
With a centralized network, the healthcare industry can facilitate a new level of collaboration that has too infrequently occurred in hospitals. It’s up to leadership to work together. By engaging each other hospital wide, IT, biomed, facilities and security management can become more efficient and effective and can better show the positive impact of their programs and capabilities.
In the long run, systems integration will pay off for everyone involved and help the hospital facility to increase ROI on infrastructure investments – and, ultimately, deliver safe and secure patient care.
About the author
Kevin Weeks is a director with Tyco Integrated Security’s healthcare division. For more on Tyco Integrated Security, click here.
Tags: Thought Leaders