Touching patients with technology

Safe and secure premises predicate healing

Safety and security in healthcare and hospital settings takes special precedence in this vertical market: it's a critical part of the institution and has to be in place so patients, visitors and employees feel safe and can go about the process of getting healed or healing others.

Safety and security has to be unobtrusive and seamless and integrate to nurses and other personnel to foster a good patience experience and satisfaction rating by the user of the facility.

There's a lot riding on technology in this vertical market. There's an explosion of networked systems and the use of technology to foster communications and mobility yet still comply with HIPPA privacy and medical identity theft issues. Data has to be accessed safely and securely and many times remotely. Wireless is used increasingly to access data, send orders and other information or communicate throughout the premises. IP intercoms are prevalent and more and more systems are riding on the network.

At the far end of the spectrum, biometrics is being used to address the rapidly rising incidence of medical identity theft, and high-resolution video cameras are being used to train medical students.

In addition, a hospital is more than another business entity. It's an extension of the patient's method of healing and also of the staff member's family. Depending on the type of facility, there may be a chance of violence, such as the emergency room where gang disputes or domestic issues spill over from the streets. In in-patient surgical facilities, entrances and exits have to be supervised with access control systems, which increasingly are integrated with video.

The nuances, the landscape

Another challenge is the broad depth of the market. Long-term care and aging facilities are another facet. Here, patient wandering systems are a necessity. Local clinics are also part and parcel with the healthcare market. Depending on their location and whether in a rural or urban setting-these facilities need help from technology as well, such as medicine management solutions.

Security is essential at parking lots and other spaces that are part of the facility, yet somewhat removed from it. These areas may be where criminals, or even disgruntled family members or spouses, wait for nurses or other employees after hours. Here, video surveillance, duress systems and call systems that initiate two-way voice solutions are deployed.

Overall, the goal of the healthcare provider and their facility is to provide a safe environment-one that fosters healing. In order to do this, patients need to feel safe and secure.

"Healthcare and hospitals, particularly nurses, are looking to make their daily lives easier, so they can focus on the patient more and provide quality care," said Ericka Chesnul, vice president of Marketing for Jeron Electronic Systems Inc., Chicago.

"The technology that's available can help them do just that. It's about having communications-and the ability to communicate wherever they are. Or, get help or get equipment without having to leave the patient's side. This all reflects on how the patients see their level of care and also reflects on the hospital," she said. "In addition, nurses and doctors don't want to be burdened with all kinds of different devices, so communications is getting smarter, working together."

Chesnul added that patient 'touches' and the number per day may also relate directly to how these entities get funding, correlating directly to Medicare payments. For systems integrators, she offered this advice: "Offer a complete solution-nurse call systems, paging, location systems, asset and people tracking. They need to have all those solutions on their 'toolboxes.' They are really looking for one stop, one person to call."

The cultures from within

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