Metrics in Healthcare Security

The financial picture for hospitals over the next 10 years is muddy. Many reports project that hospitals — particularly large or urban hospitals — will gain patients and revenue from the increase in insured Americans as a result of healthcare reform. However, changes in Medicare and Medicaid reimbursements will take a toll on those revenues. One thing is clear: hospitals are moving forward with caution.

“I think with the state of healthcare reimbursement and reform, every hospital has had to tighten its belt and will continue to have to do so,” says Bonnie Michelman, Director of Police, Security and Outside Services at Massachusetts General Hospital. Michelman is one of the founding members of a working group dedicated to identifying and documenting a transferable body of healthcare security metrics. The group is the result of a partnership between the Security Executive Council and the International Association of Healthcare Safety & Security (IAHSS).

“All departments are or should be encouraged to show their value and their return on investment in everything they do,” she says. “And though it’s very hard in our world to measure what we prevent or deter, there are a lot of ways security can show our cost efficiencies and our return on investment through data and other metrics that make it much more likely that we will be given the resources we need.”

“We have a fairly sophisticated incident software system that allows us to analyze and trend all incidents,” Michelman adds. The system allows for trending by building, day of the week, part of the campus, shift, and patient care unit. However, Michelman warns, the data from this system must be analyzed critically to be meaningful.

“If a workplace violence statistic goes up, for example, it may not mean there are more incidents occurring — it may mean that because of the extensive training we’ve done to encourage staff to report potential warning signs, people are reporting things they never would have reported before. So just because there’s a spike in certain types of statistics doesn’t mean you’re not succeeding; you just have to identify what the spike means.”