Security and safety concerns are continuing to grow worldwide. With the onset of federal security mandates like the Affordable Healthcare Act, the healthcare industry is in transformation—being forced to evolve and make security a higher priority.

The security challenges in the healthcare industry are unique—workplace violence, drug-related crimes, gang violence, infant/child abduction threats, natural disasters, terrorism, and more—begging the question of how the security and surveillance industry can help tackle these issues.

Recently, I talked with security and healthcare industry expert Paul Baratta, who is leading healthcare business development for Axis Communications, to gain insights into how security for the healthcare industry is being transformed. With over 30 years in the security industry, Paul’s experience spans from being a medical center police chief to developing security technology solutions as a trusted advisor for industry-leading organizations.

Find out Paul’s viewpoint on how federal mandates are impacting the healthcare industry, what solutions can solve their biggest pain point, and where the industry is headed.

Federal security mandates have clearly impacted the healthcare industry. Can you share a few examples of how?

Paul: There are two main ways that federal mandates have impacted the healthcare industry. The first is the Affordable Healthcare Act (ACA), monitored by the Joint Commission, a not-for-profit that accredits and certifies healthcare organizations for performance standards. The Joint Commission emphasizes the importance of healthcare organizations driving quality of care to their patients. Before it was all about “heads in the beds”—hospitals were just focused on getting as many patients in and out as they could. It was their way of generating as much revenue as possible. Now, the ACA is forcing hospitals to focus on quality of care by implementing rules around insurance reimbursement restrictions for returning patients, administering drugs within certain time periods, and requiring full documentation of patient care. The second way is the impact of Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), a federal law to protect the confidentiality of healthcare information. The HIPAA has forced hospitals to be more protective of their IT closets and IT infrastructures in order to protect patient information.

What do you see as the biggest challenge facing healthcare organizations?

Paul: Workplace violence continues to be a big concern. Even though the number of violent crime incidents has decreased nationally, it has increased in hospitals. A 2014 survey conducted by the International Association for Healthcare Security and Safety (IAHSS) reported that the rate of healthcare violence rose 25% from 2012 to 2013, and the rate of disorderly conduct incidents increased by 40%. The biggest contributors are behavioral patients and gang-related violence. Funding and resource cuts are forcing behavioral patients to be admitted to hospitals that don’t specialize in mental health, causing security concerns and incidents. Hospitals have made protecting their patients and staff a top priority, but there is a real drain on staff and cost to ensure safety.

What role do you see video surveillance playing in helping the healthcare industry face these challenges?

Paul: Video surveillance can and will play a huge role in solving the healthcare industry’s biggest challenges. Not only will more standard video surveillance practices—such as monitoring patient and  visitor rooms, and surrounding areas like parking lots—decrease incidents within hospitals, but surveillance methods like access control, body worn cameras (BWCs), staff alarms, and location services will take security and safety practices to a new level. There are processes that healthcare organizations can implement that use traditional security methods in a way that is specific to the challenges they are facing. One way is taking an “onion approach” to access control —a layered approach to handling security breaches. Another way is having emergency room staff (doctors and nurses), instead of just security guards, wear BWCs as a deterrent to violent behavior by patients and visitors.

Where do you see the healthcare industry in 10 years?

Paul: It’s no surprise that the security and healthcare industry will still be constantly changing. I believe that if healthcare organizations take security seriously and make it a priority, then they will start to become more proactive as opposed to reactive. Currently, 80% of hospitals need to upgrade their access control systems and closed-circuit televisions (CCTVs) to meet International Association for Healthcare Security and Safety (IAHSS) guidelines. In terms of the technology, the use of analytics will become more prevalent, and true integration with all systems used—access control, HVAC, cameras, and so on—will be key. Additionally, healthcare organizations need to think about the impact that these systems will have on their IT departments because the use of these security technologies will require greater storage. All of the video data collected—whether it’s from hazardous material response rooms, ambulance bays, or BWCs—will need to go somewhere and will also be impacted by retention policies.

Quantum is pleased to partner with Axis Communications, the market leader in network video at the cutting edge of surveillance and security technology, supporting leading industries including healthcare. To learn more about how we are helping organizations tackle their top challenges, check out the Video Surveillance Solutions Page.

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