Healthcare security is changing. As more and more hospitals form or join health systems or implement the Affordable Care Act, the standardization of security officer services has many advantages. The need for greater value from service providers, more efficient programs, consistent protocols for staff and patients and an increasing focus on both safety and security are positioning standardization of security services as a critical solution for health systems.

Such is the case with the University of Colorado Health (UCHealth), which has multiple rankings among the best hospitals in the country by U.S. News & World Report, and which aims to deliver the highest quality patient care with the highest quality patient experience. Its partnership combines Memorial Health System, based in Colorado Springs, Poudre Valley Health System, based in Fort Collins, and Denver metro-based University of Colorado Hospital. Separately, these institutions provide superior care to patients and committed service to their communities. Together, they push the boundaries of medicine, attracting more research funding, hosting more clinical trials and improving health through innovation. Its partnership also includes security officers from AlliedBarton.

A few years ago, Tom Davis, M.A. CHFM, Senior Director, Facilities Management & Security, University of Colorado Health, made it his mission to standardize healthcare protocols and procedures to create a safer and more affordable patient culture at UCHealth. While the standardization of products has become a common practice, healthcare institutions are now also moving toward the standardization of services. UCHealth is one of the first major healthcare systems to embrace healthcare services standardization and has become the largest and youngest healthcare system in Colorado over the past two years. UCHealth is realizing the benefits of creating uniformity in non-clinical services including physical security services from AlliedBarton.

The standardization of security services not only positions UCHealth for greater cost savings but streamlines operations and creates efficiencies in service so that managers can spend less time managing their contract providers.

“Security touches so many aspects in a hospital that people don’t even realize,” Davis says. “Security officers at UCHealth are more than a person standing at the door. They are engaged in ensuring patients’ comfort is met while they are being cared for.”

AlliedBarton security officers are consistently branded in the same uniforms, cross-trained to provide services at more than one location, helping to ensure that excellent customer service is provided every day, at every location, Davis says. All officers are trained in crisis prevention/intervention to teach them to de-escalate situations.

AlliedBarton security officers are an important part of the hospital team – they serve as an integral partner to help ensure a safe and secure healthcare environment so that the medical staff can solely focus on providing outstanding patient care. Two examples: AlliedBarton security officers are trained to provide “patient watches” to sit with suicidal or mental health patients and watch them and ensure their safety so that medical staff can provide care to other areas, when needed. Second, AlliedBarton and UCHealth use a D3 reporting system that identifies trends across the health system and allows for the strategic deployment of security resources. Critical to the success of the program is a single senior security leader for the health system as Davis says: “When goals and priorities are consistent throughout all locations, the implementation of standardized services can be seamless. We are staying on top of issues instead of just throwing bodies at issues.”

The security officers have been particularly involved in family medical clinics, Davis says, with implementation of the Affordable Care Act. “In one of our family medical clinics in Fort Collins, we have the law changed on the dispensing of prescriptions, which may upset some patients, so we have security officers at the clinics to ensure calm and order and the safety of all patients there.”

In July 2012, when a gunman shot and killed 12 people and injured more than 70 others during a mass shooting inside of a Century movie theater in Aurora, Colorado, more than 20 of the patients flooded the emergency department at University of Colorado hospital. AlliedBarton security officers not only assisted local police to move patients out of their police cars and helped the families of the victims, but they also assisted hospital staff with the onslaught of media attention.

“We had trained for media relations, but the Aurora shooting was overwhelming,” Davis explains. “We not only had to deal with a visit from President Obama, but the rumor of (actor) Christian Bale visiting, as well. The security officer team got people under control and got the crowd under control.

“That was a key event for them, as you don’t always train for hundreds of people to suddenly show up at your door, especially a hospital situation, which is an open environment. The media intruded in an area where they should not have been, so it was a lesson learned.

“Overall, we have created a standardized system that involves security officers from AlliedBarton where now feel comfortable that we have created a positive, safe environment through consistent training, reporting procedures and security measures.”