The Heartbeat of Healthcare

How the healthcare market has changed over the last several years! Starting with HIPPA privacy regulations, increased OSHA compliance, mass and emergency notification and mobile developments—the market has been on a fast track to increased technology with mixed results. They are trying, but are hitting road bumps along the way, such as lack of funding and greater scrutiny on spending.

Hospitals and healthcare venues are complex organizations, and especially with regards to security, with disparate systems that now need to talk to each other in every way imaginable. But all this doesn’t happen overnight.

There is so much to protect at the healthcare facility: data, personnel, perimeters and visitors. In fact, healthcare is a melting pot of personnel and the community, with gang and domestic violence spilling onto the protected premises and perimeter. Couple that with the fact that healthcare is becoming more a hospitality venue—new facilities have places for family members to stay overnight or longer—the list of detection and protection challenges keeps growing.

Still, systems integrators with a focus on the niche find success in driving the right solutions to the end user. They are going into the premises as total solutions providers, becoming a trusted partner, especially for those organizations which might not be able to do everything they want when it comes to security and integrated solutions today—but knowing that they will be called on in the future when the time is right if they have helped the organization along the way. Integrators are focusing on the infrastructure that is in place and how they can add value by providing systems and services that will help the healthcare market move to new technologies in the future. For those with analog cameras, migration technologies in surveillance and storage are critical. Software that can help integrate access control with video and emergency notification is also high on the list of wants and needs.

Jim Stankevich, CHPA, is the manager of Healthcare Security for Software House, Tyco Security Products. He is one of only some 200 with the Certified Healthcare Protection Administrator (CHPA) credential, so he knows the ins and outs of the market. Stankevich is also president of the 2011 Board of Directors of the International Association for Healthcare Security & Safety (IAHSS), a leading organization which he said is critical for integrators to become involved in so they can understand the many challenges of the marketplace. IAHSS is dedicated to excellence in healthcare security, safety and emergency management and its goals are education, credentialing, growth and influence.


Workplace violence still being defined

Stankevich said one of the biggest challenges in the healthcare environment is workplace violence, which is yet to have a standard definition in the field. In fact, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety & Health Administration recently issued directive CPL 02-01-052, Enforcement Procedures for Investigating or Inspecting Workplace Violence Incidents. The directive is designed to establish general policy guidance and procedures for field offices when conducting inspections in response to incidents of workplace violence. It is the first enforcement documentation of its kind directed at industries susceptible to workplace violence (visit Another organization of importance in the vertical is The Joint Commission (TJC), formerly the Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO), a not-for-profit organization that accredits over 19,000 healthcare organizations and programs in the U.S.

“Collaboration between healthcare and security is finally coming around,” Stankevich said. “One of the solutions that healthcare organizations are looking at is wireless panic button technology with an RFID chip and intelligence that identifies a very specific location of the signal and the healthcare worker carrying the notification device. We are beginning to really have integration and identification—for example, having the wireless panic or other tied to access control to start cameras recording and lock doors.”

Although increasingly interested in wireless signaling, Stankevich said cost containment is still foremost on the minds of the healthcare organization, which have legacy systems in place, especially in older infrastructures. “In my travels, I see that end users shop around more and are knowledgeable about what they are buying. They are up on technology and are using managed services, especially on third-shift staffing in primarily unoccupied buildings.”

Stankevich advised systems integrators to join and become active in IAHSS and get to know healthcare personnel at the hospital. “That way, you can really get to know what their concern is truly. With IAHSS you get to know recent news from TJC and OSHA as well as other regulations through this one organization,” he said.

Systems integrator David Alessandrini, vice president of Pasek Corp., in Boston said the sheer magnitude of the different challenges in the healthcare vertical market can be daunting. “There are a lot of different scenarios that have to be considered in the healthcare vertical market,” Alessandrini said. “There are numerous challenges working in patient areas and there’s also infectious disease control risk assessment. When we work in those areas, we have to take special precautions and have to work in a tent. Employees have to go through a certification process and this and other parameters add expense to the job,” he said.

Tips to working the vertical

market successfully

John Krumme CPP, president and CEO of Cam-Dex Security Corp., Kansas City, Kan., said infectious disease is a major challenge working in the vertical. “There’s certainly more of an investment on the integrator’s part,” he said. “We have worked in hospitals for over 20 years, and the rules and regulations have changed over the course of time. But we have found that regardless, the most important thing for the integrators to do is present products that satisfy the end user’s objectives. You also have to have technicians factory trained and certified on technologies so that the healthcare facility director or bio medical director or others are totally comfortable with your knowledge and capabilities and those of your employees,” Krumme said.

Alessandrini added that hospitals have many different areas with special requirements, such as the maternity ward requiring special annunciation and locking, as well as delayed egress and areas where patient wandering may be a concern or emergency lockdowns come into play. Krumme added that Cam-Dex’s priority is consultative selling, holding ongoing discussions with healthcare customers about employee safety, especially because of the 24-hour operation and the proliferation of female staff and remote or onsite parking facilities. “Emergency or mass notification means getting a pre-recorded message out with directions on where employees need to move to in the event of a tornado or an active shooter. Many of the hospitals today are doing drills for active shooters,” he said.

Brad Wilson CPP and president of RFI Communications & Security Systems in San Jose, Calif., commented that the community of the hospital has changed dramatically. “You are talking about an environment where there are injuries, crowding and gangs in the emergency rooms, sensitive data areas, psychiatric wards and issues with nurses going to parking lots in all hours,” said Wilson. “There’s an overarching need for security but hospitals need funding and they don’t open the ‘safe door’ too often,” he said.


Getting a rapport will pay in reward

Wilson said healthcare facility managers and security directors want integrators who understand their environment not only today, but in the future. “They want the ability to respond quickly to a power outage or an epidemic. They do a lot of training of personnel and are conducting sessions on active shooters awareness and preparation for certain incidents,” he said.

Understanding their needs and providing a migration strategy is critical to the healthcare environment. “They want video surveillance but need to be able to migrate at will and use what they currently have until they can make the move to new technology. They want proven solutions. They are traditionally not bleeding edge, but looking for tried and true.”

Wilson said RFI Communications & Security Systems is a member of IAHSS and also familiar with and well-versed on the Office of Statewide Health Planning and Development (OSHPD), Sacramento, Calif., TJC as well as NFPA codes and standards and even seismic retrofit requirements.

“It’s an extremely dynamic environment,” Wilson said. “There are a lot of things to understand to be able to talk to the market. These facilities are looking for ways to save costs and for more stable technologies. A good systems integrator needs to be able to build a roadmap for them so that they have a business driver to get the funding for projects. Referrals are a critical part of an integrator’s success; they do talk amongst themselves and want to build long-term relationships. You have to speak their language and understand their world. If you are successful, it’s a domino effect and can definitely parlay into more business.”


Editor’s Note:

Each of the independent systems integrators in this story are a member of Security-Net, a global provider of security integration services with 50 regional offices and 1,200 security professionals across the U.S.