The Future of Access Control Solutions in Healthcare

March 25, 2024
Four perspectives spotlight an industry that strives toward integrated, interoperable and secure access control solutions

In the complex world of healthcare, as organizations continue to expand and evolve, the need for robust and interoperable systems is becoming increasingly critical. This article, created by three member organizations of the Access Control Executive Brief, brings together three insightful perspectives that delve into the challenges and opportunities within healthcare security, specifically focusing on access control systems.

We first hear from Ryan Schonfeld, Founder & CEO of HiveWatch, discussing the changing nature of healthcare institutions and the complexity of incorporating new technologies within their security systems. The second piece by TDSi explores how modernizing access control systems can beneficially impact the healthcare sector by ensuring security and safety while facilitating efficient operations. Lastly, 4S Security presents a compelling case for digital integration in access control systems, emphasizing the pivotal role of system integrators in the healthcare security landscape.

Are you ready to take the next step in enhancing your healthcare organization's access control system and operability? A suitable place to start is below. When asked to put together our thoughts on innovation in access control, specifically in the healthcare vertical, I knew precisely which three members of the Access Control Executive Brief we needed to hear from. I wanted a global view from three different areas of the industry and those with one leg in the old but an even bigger leg leading the new.

The Importance of Interoperability and Centralization in Healthcare Security Systems

By Ryan Schonfeld, Founder & CEO, HiveWatch

The changing nature of the healthcare industry is the main reason issues related to interoperability are so critical. Healthcare organizations are constantly growing and changing, adding remote facilities, building in new areas, and incorporating practices into the facility’s footprint. This can be a recipe for disaster if physical security teams are not able to seamlessly integrate new – and many times, different – technologies together. Particularly in healthcare, organizations are growing exponentially through mergers and acquisitions, which also significantly increases the complexities around modernizing an access control program.

The healthcare campus ecosystem may contain hospitals, retail/community clinics, research labs and education buildings. It requires flexibility and solutions that can be catered to the specific operating environment while also allowing for interoperability.

Historically, the access control industry has leaned heavily on proprietary technologies requiring extensive integration work to incorporate basic functionality with video surveillance technology and management. Not only does this create a heavy lift for security leaders to incorporate new locations into a security ecosystem, but it can also have a detrimental effect on the oversight of remote locations within the same network of systems. Without the ability to integrate multiple physical access control solutions to create a common operational picture, GSOC operators may be tasked with jumping from platform to platform to address incidents, clear (or respond to) alarms, or shift resources where they’re needed most.

When you use multiple platforms without a place to centralize, you end up spreading key data into different systems. Given the rigor with which healthcare data is managed, the result is that now you have more systems that you must ensure are compliant, meaning that the regulatory bandwidth of the organization may be crunched. Healthcare security teams are limiting themselves from operational excellence when using multiple systems because they can’t begin to start making data-driven decisions when having to jump between multiple pools of data. The task of cleaning data to glean insights becomes cumbersome for security teams that are already tasked with some of the highest priorities in ensuring the safety and security of patients, visitors, and staff.

Data from not only access control solutions, but also video surveillance data, can become more of a tool for better decision-making when funneled through a centralized security operations management platform which performs normalization of data across disparate input systems. A singular platform is quicker to learn and easier for security leaders to train on, instead of what can be dozens of platforms for each access control solution in place across a healthcare campus.

Data is another reason access control interoperability is critical within the healthcare environment. Too often, we leave data on the table because we don’t know how to use it properly. We aren’t sure where it lives, where to view it, how to access it in real time, or how to normalize it. And you can’t realize its full potential until you do. Access control data is one of the biggest pools of data we have in security – and coupled with information coming in from video, building management systems, intelligence platforms, social media, intrusion alarms, and perimeter security solutions, it has the potential to revolutionize how security teams respond to and proactively address incidents. Some of this data can be applied to the use of field resources and guards, ensuring these costly resources are adequately distributed across healthcare facilities.

Healthcare security leaders must have data to make better decisions, and without significant steps toward bringing disparate systems together, the prioritization of interoperability of access control solutions, or stepping away from leaving critical data “on the table,” it’s a long road ahead to secure these organizations. Centralized security operations management can mean all the difference. 

There are always distinctive challenges when addressing the specific access control requirements for any business sector and healthcare is certainly no different.

How Is the Push to Modernize Access Control Systems and Their Interoperability Helping the Healthcare Vertical?


Secure access control is essential for the Healthcare sector in protecting patients and medical staff, along with other inextricably linked assets such as facilities, equipment, medicines and supplies. The unique requirements of each healthcare facility mean medical service providers must invest in the right level of access control to ensure security and safety, whilst enabling staff and patients to easily reach where they need to be.

There are always distinctive challenges when addressing the specific access control requirements for any business sector and healthcare is certainly no different. For example, with the need for both security and infection control, traditional keycards may not always be suitable for all medical facilities. Whilst mobile device credentials have become a popular choice for many secure access control applications, their use within medical facilities may be restricted by privacy and cleanliness requirements, and therefore integration and use of modern contactless biometric readers (such as facial recognition) may be more suitable.

The close integration of access control with other security and IT systems provides many other highly valued features that may benefit healthcare providers. TDSi’s GARDiS Access Control solution for instance integrates with Suprema’s Biometric Readers for fast and secure biometric authentication and with CCTV and VMS providers such as Pelco, Hanwha Vision and Milestone to incorporate CCTV surveillance data from across a facility and its surrounding site.

Other integrations such as Microsoft’s Active Directory can be combined within GARDiS Software to give security and management teams a detailed overview of the security and broader management of people and property across the whole facility, enabling a coordinated response to any potential issues or threats.

As the ‘eyes and ears’ of the secured facility, these fully integrated systems are also well placed to help fulfill facilities management requirements. Systems such as these can be configured to trigger and dismiss heating, ventilation, and lighting in communal areas to maximize efficiency and minimize the wastage of resources. Secure access control can equally be used for time and attendance monitoring (accurately checking staff arrivals and departures) and integrate with workflows to assist with compliance records and help with staff rotes, especially when CCTV data can also be incorporated should evidence be required.

Fully integrated access control and security systems can help to protect patient privacy and aid with regulatory compliance. They help to manage safe and secure visitor access (by tracking and verifying visitors whilst securing sensitive areas), protect assets, and promote safety during emergencies by notifying people during evacuation for quick and coordinated responses (such as locking down certain areas or providing access to emergency response teams).

This advanced access control as a service delivery model provides exactly the resources required for scalability and can help avoid some of the high CapEx costs associated with buying and installing a system directly. By delivering an attractive blend of reliable security automation and safety, along with sensible operating costs, Healthcare providers investing in current access control systems have the peace of mind that these critical facilities are properly protected. This enables a greater focus of resources on the primary purpose of healthcare facilities - caregiving and providing patients with the best service and support available.

In healthcare, where security is paramount, this interoperability is not just a convenience; it's a necessity.

Navigating the Future of Healthcare Security and the Role of Digital Integration in Access Control Systems 

by 4S Security 

In the rapidly evolving landscape of healthcare security, the concept of interoperability has emerged as a cornerstone in the pursuit of digital transformation. FHIR APIs and other forms of interoperability between scheduling, care, customer service, and other areas of healthcare organizations are rapidly shifting to modern applications that create a web of interconnected systems, allowing data to transfer seamlessly from hospital to hospital.

However, in the quest for compatibility, one key area of hospitals has been overlooked – the buildings themselves. As hospitals seek to provide an integrated and safe experience even further for patients and staff alike, the key may lie in utilizing the data and physical systems in their building as a part of their goals. Interoperability, in the context of access control systems, refers to the ability of diverse systems and software applications to communicate, exchange data and utilize the information that has been exchanged effectively.

In healthcare, where security is paramount, this interoperability is not just a convenience; it's a necessity. Consider these two examples. A hospital is notified that a case of COVID-19 or another highly infectious disease has been found in their facility. By using contact tracing technology and tying access control data to it, the software can quickly analyze exactly where a patient has been, and whom they’ve interacted with, and staff can quickly initiate and emergency lockdown.

In the second example, a hospital providing controversial medical services such as gender conversions or abortions receives an online booking appointment through their website. The patient arrives, is checked in by a front desk agent, and is brought to an exam room. When the nurse enters his room, he violently attacks her. It is found later in the investigation that this man has a history of hate crimes against LGBTQ organizations. To combat situations like these, they need to be stopped before they begin. By implementing visitor management systems and integra8ng them with local watchlists of hate crime offenders as well as integrating with the hospital’s EHR (Electronic Health Records) system, a quick, technical verification, can be made to ascertain whether this booking was created by a bad actor, or a patient in need.

Traditionally, the security integrator’s role in healthcare has been to install the selected access control, surveillance, or other systems without considering how they may interact with the hospital’s broader array of tools that can guarantee safety and security. We believe that integrators are the key to deeply understanding each organization’s needs and creating custom integrations tailored to their specific environments. Product manufacturers have limited bandwidth to customize their products and engineer them for specific clients.

However, by providing integrators tools (Open APIs, Platform Development Tools, etc.) integrators become the conduit that bridges the gaps between functionalities of individual systems and insert them congruously within the broader scope of the organization’s application stack and more importantly, safety strategy. Integrators can help connect (integrate), secure (cybersecurity), and maintain (service and support) systems on a personal level to ensure that each organization benefits from tailored solutions rather than blanket offerings from product manufacturers.

Looking ahead, the value of interoperability and the role of the integrator in healthcare will only grow in importance. As technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, and the Internet of Things (IoT) become more prevalent in access control systems, the complexity of integration will increase. The integrator should be at the forefront of this evolution, ensuring that these advanced technologies are successfully incorporated into the healthcare security infrastructure. To fully take advantage of the acceleration of technology in the healthcare space, providers must partner with the right integra8on partners that can help them identify, orchestrate, and implement the technologies that will improve patient care, and staff safety, and ultimately continue to protect their staff, their facilities, and uphold their mission to protect that which we all deeply value – life itself.

In Conclusion 

In conclusion, the modernization and integration of access control systems within healthcare are not just about enhancing security; they are transforming how healthcare organizations operate by making data more accessible, insights more actionable, and decision-making more strategic. As patient safety and data security continue to be paramount, the future of healthcare lies in the hands of those who can effectively leverage technology and data.

As we move forward, healthcare leaders need to embrace this change and invest in modern access control systems and integrations that can meet their specific needs. The time to act is now. Start by evaluating your current systems, identifying opportunities for improvement, and seeking out partnerships that can help you navigate this complex landscape.

If you are interested in topics such as this, consider joining the ever-growing community of the Access Control Executive Brief where members like HiveWatch, TDSi, and 4S Security engage, learn, network, and contribute to the next evolution and generation of the global access control industry. 

Lee Odess is a globally recognized leader and influential voice in the access control industry. As a business analyst, community builder, consultant, and engaging speaker, Lee challenges conventional thinking, redefining the role of access technology in today's connected world. With a vision focused on holistic experiences, Lee advocates for the idea that security extends beyond the front door. He believes in empowering spaces to ensure safety, convenience, operational efficiency, revenue generation, and innovation. Throughout his distinguished career, Lee has guided owners and operators in harnessing the latest technologies to achieve secure access, exceptional user experiences, and future-proof infrastructures.