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Hospitals Weigh Access Control, Intrusion Detection to Boost Safety and Security­


Among the tools healthcare facilities use for safety and security are access control, intrusion detection, and video analytics. All of these tools have pros and cons.

Access control is a fundamental to protecting assets, says David LaRose, director of safety/security and EM Management at Lakeland Regional Medical Center in Lakeland, Fla. Every institution has made significant investments in people and property, so it's crucial to identify threats, such as an individual getting unauthorized access to an area or missing equipment, he says. Given the freedom nurses, doctors, and staff need to do their jobs, it's important to be able to control who has access to areas around the facility, LaRose says.

Ideally, electronic access control would replace all mechanical locks and keys, not only because it allows security personnel to restrict where people are allowed, but also because it's easier to deactivate a card than rekey a lock, says Lauris Freidenfelds, security director at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago. "You lose a key and you lose the security there," he says. "Very few people will rekey that lock. But if you lose the access control card, we'll deactivate the cards but the security remains."

Intrusion detection, including alarms and motion detectors, are helpful in signaling when someone has entered a prohibited area, but facility managers worry that too many false alarms will lead staffs to ignore them.

Video analytics aren't used extensively in healthcare facilities for a variety of reasons, ranging from price to quality to ease of use. The technology requires "much hand holding and tweaking," according to William Sako, senior vice president of Rolf Jensen & Associates Inc.

No matter which technology facility managers choose, they'll need to continue to balance the appropriate level of technology with patient and staff convenience. That balance, LaRose says, requires having all stakeholders — facility managers, patient-care advocates, risk-management employees, and security staff — at the table early in the decision-making process.

This tip comes from Desiree Hanford.

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