Controlling the flow of people in and out of a healthcare facility is essential to keep staff, patients, sensitive documents, medications and equipment secure. How hospitals, clinics and other medical facilities do this is evolving beyond simply locking and unlocking doors. 

The industry is moving towards a holistic approach to security. Modern access control systems can do much more than ensure that only people with permission can gain entrance to a room or facility. New applications simplify day-to-day tasks, increase efficiency and even help improve regulation compliance. 

Streamlining operations

With a unified system, when an incident or alarm is recorded, security leaders can quickly view all related data: access control logs, video from nearby cameras, data from other sensors and so on. Security leaders can find out where a person in the video was in the building just before the incident occurred. 

Likewise, when everything is managed and controlled within one system, training is simplified. It’s easier for new staff to get up to speed. Staff only need to learn one set of commands and one interface. 

To assist new operators, standard operating procedures (SOPs) can be programmed to guide staff on specific steps needed for a response. They don’t need to search for manuals or written guides. It’s all at their fingertips.

Audit trails and operational reports 

In high-security areas such as medicine dispensaries, it’s important to maintain accurate audit trails of who comes and goes. If a narcotic or piece of equipment goes missing, security teams need to see who was near the incident. 

A unified system allows security teams and administrators to monitor and respond to data from all systems within a single software program. It’s easier to create a comprehensive audit trail and generate operational reports as required. Monthly reports tallying data on the number and type of security incidents, time to resolution, status of incidents and exposure for the hospital can be quickly accessed. 

But it isn’t just employees to account for. Healthcare facilities should also consider a unified visitor identification management system. It can reduce the work required to create a full audit trail, inclusive of visitors, to share with law enforcement or hospital administration if an incident occurs.

Dynamic and flexible permissions

A holistic approach to security often includes unification with human resource (HR) systems. 

For example, when staff are hired or transferred, their credentials automatically update to match their new role. When an employee leaves, their rights are revoked as soon as the change is made in the linked active directory or database. When onboarding new employees or temporarily assigning personnel to other departments, administrators can adjust which areas they access and under what conditions.

Examples include facial recognition or two-factor identification that uses biometrics or mobile credentials. Such systems are becoming increasingly popular to streamline access control in healthcare facilities.

Unify access control with other systems to enhance security and maintain compliance

Consider implementing a digital evidence management system (DEMS). When an incident is caught on video, a DEMS allows security leaders to track who saw, shared, or modified the evidence. Security leaders can also restrict the sharing of sensitive information to only those who need to see it. For example, when sharing evidence, security leaders can create a redacted version that blurs bystander identity. Security leaders may then send the original version only to the police investigator assigned to the case. A DEMS provides a full audit trail that identifies who has accessed sensitive files and any actions they took. 

The volume of events that happen in healthcare settings can make it hard for operators to differentiate and filter the relevant data. Using camera-based or server-based analytics, security teams can better understand what’s happening around them, act quicker, and make more informed decisions. Analytic tools can help detect individuals, vehicles and objects so operators know where to focus their attention. 

Get more out of access control

Healthcare administrators face increasingly difficult challenges. In this environment, they must secure facilities and campuses and provide uncompromised service. Unified, open access control solutions are a source of untapped resources that can serve them in this mission. The key that unlocks these resources is a collaborative approach. Security, facilities, and IT departments can work together to create a unified strategy that enhances security, compliance and efficiency.

This article originally ran in Security, a twice-monthly security-focused eNewsletter for security end users, brought to you by Security magazine. Subscribe here.