SD&I Cover Focus (Dec. 2015): Healthcare Security

Dec. 14, 2015
From regulations to technology, the healthcare landscape is rapidly changing, and integrators must stay up to date to find and keep the business

Outside of government and critical infrastructure, perhaps no market is as gripped by federal regulation than is the healthcare market. From HIPAA to Obamacare to drug laws, the healthcare vertical is riddled with potential pitfalls and potholes for security integrators and their clients.

That said, this regulatory environment is truly a double-edged sword — yes, integrators have to deal with intricate rules, but in turn, these rules create more demand from the end-users themselves. I spoke with three integrators from Security-Net to get a better feel for the overall landscape of healthcare security:

“We have found healthcare organizations are now stepping up in reference to electronic security for their facilities,” says Tom Hanes, branch manager for San Jose, Calif.-based security integrator RFI Communications & Security Systems. “Although most have had some type of access, alarm or video systems in the past, these were always secondary to their facility requirements. With the compliance required today (and going forward), these organizations have realized security systems are a vital part of safety and security and reporting requirements.”

HIPAA compliance can be challenging for the security department of a major metropolitan hospital. “This has created the need for additional access control and video surveillance in sensitive areas of the hospital,” explains John Krumme, president of St. Louis-based Cam-Dex Security Corp. “Patient records and pharmaceutical documentation is the primary focus.”

Adds David Alessandrini, vice president of Pasek Corp., of Boston: “No detail is too small to require increased security technology to protect patient data.”

Protecting Pharmaceuticals

Because of the multitude of drugs housed in a typical healthcare facility, access control has really risen to the forefront, and integrators are finding that technologies like wireless and video surveillance are making the job much easier.  

“We are educating security departments on electric locks and wireless readers for mobile pharmaceutical carts,” Krumme says. “Properly securing the carts and cabinets provides the appropriate security and generates total accountability. With this approach, only those authorized gain access. Video surveillance serves as a backup, should an access control device be compromised, stolen or simply handed off to a fellow employee.”

“We recommend a highly secured department utilizing multiple levels of access control, biometric technologies, video surveillance and alarm monitoring,” Alessandrini says. “More hospitals are moving toward machines to dispense drugs monitored by video cameras. For a higher level of authentication biometric technologies, fingerprint, iris and facial recognition are recommended.” 

Adds Hanes: “We are finding that over the past eight to 12 months, many of our healthcare customers have begin to discuss cabinet locks and asset tracking.”

Integrated Security

Beyond pharmaceuticals, hospitals continue to face many of the same problems that they have encountered in the past; thus, it is important for integrators to be ready with a fully integrated and well-thought-out solution that solves workplace violence, mass notification, access control and surveillance.

“Urban Hospitals can be a dangerous environment, and emergency rooms continue to create challenges for security,” Krumme says. “Camera technology continues to improve providing the very best images for both inside and outside a facility. Mass notification is also an important addition to the hospital environment. This provides clear direction for guests, contractors, and staff regarding evacuation in the event of an emergency. Active shooter and inclement weather are two of the most important reasons to implement a mass notification system.”

The following section will go further in depth on healthcare security, starting with strategies for a large-scale hospital retrofit or greenfield installation; more access control trends in the healthcare environment; and employee and visitor ID badge technologies.

Paul Rothman is Editor-in-Chief of Security Dealer & Integrator (SD&I) magazine (

About the Author

Paul Rothman | Editor-in-Chief/Security Business

Paul Rothman is Editor-in-Chief of Security Business magazine. Email him your comments and questions at [email protected]. Access the current issue, full archives and apply for a free subscription at