Security Innovation Awards Silver Medal: Leadership and innovation merge to secure Houston-based hospital system

Major security retro fit for legacy systems for 13-hospital group in Houston


The Memorial Hermann Healthcare project is a story of collaboration, vision, strategy, partnership and leadership.

When I was interviewing to become the system security executive at Memorial Hermann Health System I got the sense that the systems and procedures were in need of significant attention and remediation. It wasn’t until my first days on the job before I was able to recognize just how daunting this task would be.

Memorial Hermann is a network of 13 hospitals located in and around Houston, Texas. Security professionals know that one stand-alone hospital is a complex environment requiring technical, managerial and financial savvy unlike any other vertical. Now multiply that level of complexity by 13 and put it all under one umbrella. Covering over 20 million square feet, with 1,762 doors, 1,600 cameras, 30,000 cardholders and 5 million visitors annually, this project is among the largest on the Software House C•Cure 9000 platform.

As we began analyzing the organization’s security infrastructure I found dozens of offline cameras, inconsistencies in database management, unused hardware components collecting dust, and a security culture as disparate as the independently operating access control systems. We needed a significant investment of financial and human resources to right the ship.

Each site (except one) was operating a local version of Software House C•Cure 800, so this is where we started. I contacted Software House and explained my dilemma. I felt that the best solution was to centralize the security systems, but in order to accomplish this we needed an integrator that understood our needs and could deliver on our expectations.

As I interviewed C•Cure dealers, Software House introduced me to Scott Welborn from Tech Systems, Inc., one of Software House’s enterprise-level dealers. Scott listened intently to my concerns, needs and vision. Usually, once this kind of project would go to bid to the few Software House C•Cure dealers in the area, bids would be proposed and typically, decisions would be made in favor of the lowest-cost, unqualified provider.

Scott, however, shared the details of Tech Systems’ “For Our Customers’ Ultimate Satisfaction” (FOCUS) program with us. We found that Memorial Hermann was able to fill in the gaps of our security operations by allowing Tech Systems to manage ongoing security procedures. The Tech Systems proposal was priced right and the value of the FOCUS program created even more value than the items that were included in the bid.

We were impressed by their attention to customer service, an excellent preventative maintenance package, a strong internal technological knowledge among the staff and proven project management methodologies.

Because this conversion was a long-term plan it required a long-term partnership. It is never good to create an adversarial relationship with vendors. They need to perform, they need to be motivated and they need to value Memorial Hermann as a customer. It’s not all about price, it’s about value. Tech Systems offered me the most cost-effective and results-oriented proposal. Leveraging their expertise, experience and ongoing professional services we could save money over time and have a security program that is fluid and effective today, tomorrow and a year from now.

 

The Plan

As a non-profit organization, Memorial Hermann had a budget and a limitation on what we could spend. The key was to get the most value for the dollar and to formulate a return-on-investment that our C-level executives could recognize.

So I got in front of 13 C-level officers and presented our plan.

The plan was to migrate to the Software House C•Cure 9000 platform, with all sites centrally managed at our headquarters location. Integrating the Hugs infant-protection product; six different video surveillance technologies that includes American Dynamics, Pelco and Intellex; along with five audio products would be no easy task. This strategy was developed after several months of in-depth discussion and collaboration with Tech Systems, Software House, Memorial Hermann IT and security staff.

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