Ensure optimal healthcare guest security with these tips and tools.
Like any place of work, all healthcare institutions – from doctor’s surgeries and care homes to large hospitals – have a duty of care to employees to provide a safe working environment. However, healthcare managers need to go much further with security than the average place of work because they also need to ensure patient safety.
Of course, most healthcare institutions have people coming and going all the time. Anyone from cleaning contractors, employees, guest specialists and patients to ordinary members of the public need to be able to gain reasonable access. How do hospital and surgery managers ensure that guests are able to gain access to the services they need as well as the patients they wish to visit whilst still maintaining a secure environment for all concerned?
One of the chief ways in which hospitals have dealt with healthcare guest security historically has been to install CCTV at key access points. This usually means that you’ll see a CCTV camera or two at the main entrance to a hospital as well as one overlooking reception. However, given that in OECD countries alone, the average person accesses healthcare services 6.9 times per year, the amount of footage needed to be viewed to be truly effective is immense. How can you tell from a grainy image if someone is where they should be or trying to get into a place they are not allowed? CCTV remains a good deterrent factor but is not enough for optimal healthcare guest security outcomes alone.
All too often, hospital policies fail to keep up with the latest healthcare guest security issues until a major breach is discovered and they are consequently updated. Take the time to review guest security measures before something occurs which forces you to do so. Consider all of the access points to your hospital and whether staff are remembering to close doors behind them following, for example, a smoking break outside. Do your policies allow you to act on noticing suspicious behaviour or do staff need to wait until they see something definite?
Access control technology
In healthcare guest security, there are few better things you can put in place than up-to-date access control technology. Visitor management systems are designed to make guests sign-in for themselves rather than have a receptionist do the work for them. This means they take responsibility for themselves and where they will be in your campus – a big psychological difference from assuming access rights until being denied them. By automating access control – for instance, by issuing temporary access cards – you can remotely deactivate access if needed. Indeed, those responsible for security can monitor the number of guests and where they happen to be at any one time by viewing live reporting data over the internet without the need to be on site at all.
Emergency evacuation procedures
Although fire drills are commonplace in places like hospitals, hospices and care homes, healthcare guest security is often not considered thoroughly enough when it comes to evacuation. Let’s face it, healthcare facilities have been attacked by intruders in the past and you must have a plan to get staff and patients to safety in the albeit unlikely event your one suffers the same fate.
Essentially, this means planning escape routes that avoid the main access points. Fire doors and other emergency exits need to be provided which allow people to get out even if the main routes they’d usually take are blocked. There can be little doubt that in high-rise buildings, providing safe escape routes is a challenge. However, it is one that needs to be met as a part of a wider healthcare guest security remit.
Hospitals and many other healthcare institutions are 24/7 places. In most locations in a hospital, however, there is no reason to allow the same level of access day and night. Of course, places like emergency rooms and trauma centres need to be able to be accessed day and night. After all, emergencies can happen at any time.
But, what about patient wards, high dependency units and outpatient clinics? No guest needs to get into such places in the middle of the night. If the access control mechanisms you have in place – for example, punch code entry systems – don’t alter during the night, then your out of hours access is too lenient. The occasional tour of a night time security officer is not enough to mitigate for this. Your policies and security technology should always take account of the differing access needs at night compared with the daytime.
If you want to improve the quality of your access control systems at certain times of the day or are looking to make improvements to your healthcare guest security measures across the board, then Contact VisiPoint. We have the access control hardware to meet the understandably high demands of healthcare institutions plus the real-time software to help improve all aspects of hospital security.