Taking a Connected Approach
An innovative approach results in a more secure healthcare facility
- By Cody Flood
- August 01, 2019
When considering the
challenges of healthcare
security, many of
us first think about
vast hospital campuses
that encompass entire city blocks and experience
high volumes of visitors each and every
day. However, some overlook individual
healthcare facilities that are often a part of
larger networks with geographically dispersed
offices. Particularly due to the multilocation
management, there is an inherent
need for an innovative approach when it
comes to the implementation of a comprehensive
security plan that centers on the
practice of increased connectivity.
Smaller clinics, doctor’s offices and urgent
care facilities can fall into this category, one
that makes up an overarching ecosystem that
requires adequate coverage and connectivity
for security devices. These facilities are critical
parts of an overall network that must be
intertwined, allowing remote management
for capabilities such as making changes to
software, managing incoming video surveillance
footage and incidents, and obtaining
real-time security oversight and alerts. Connectivity
is at the heart of the effort within
the healthcare industry to bring ancillary
locations under a single umbrella and for
many of these entities, cloud-based solutions
are a natural fit.
Challenges Facing Dispersed Facilities
Smaller healthcare organizations, whether
located in more rural environments or in
metropolitan areas, require the same level of
protection as larger businesses, but certain
challenges to the adoption of security solutions
exist, such as:
Costly updates for on-premise solutions.
For many of these establishments,
video data is being collected and stored
within the facility in an effort to meet state
and federal regulations. However, on-premise
video surveillance storage solutions
present a critical issue: they must be maintained.
This can be cost-prohibitive for
some smaller offices that rely on integrators
to make a service call to update hardware in
an effort to keep the system up and running—
and safe from external threats.
Hardware investments. Initial investments
in on-premise storage solutions can
create a barrier to entry for small- to medium-
sized businesses as part of a connected
network of facilities. When setting up a security
system, there’s also an added cost—both
monetarily and in time—for deploying an IT
team to ensure the network component is
addressed properly, which can have a significant
cost associated as well.
Cybersecurity concerns. The addition of
connected devices as part of a network
undoubtedly creates the added vulnerability
for cyber threats or a breach. In a healthcare
environment in particular, where records are
being transmitted through a network and
patient confidentiality is of the utmost importance, it’s imperative to ensure cybersecurity against outside threats.
Visitor management and video verification. In individual healthcare
locations, video and access are important parts of an overall
security approach, but a challenge exists when it comes to the ability
of security officials to achieve comprehensive visitor management
and video verification in a single-pane-of-glass view.
Benefits of the Cloud for Connectivity
Though the challenges dispersed healthcare facilities face are numerous,
cloud-based services can help enhance business efficiency and
security. The growth of the cloud alone within multiple industries is
staggering: Gartner predicts that the worldwide public cloud services
market is projected to grow 17.3 percent in 2019 to total $206.2 billion,
up from $175.8 billion in 2018.
The cloud has proven to be a highly functional, flexible and convenient
method for healthcare facilities to augment their strategies for
protection and modernization in an increasingly connected environment.
In this market in particular, the cloud provides numerous benefits
for optimizing business operations and security processes,
Centralization. One of the most advantageous components of the
cloud is its ability to allow the appropriate users to access information
from any place at any time and from a range of connected devices. All
pertinent data is aggregated into one platform, and in the event of a
crisis—security or business related—stakeholders can obtain the
most relevant and up-to-date information in minutes for an immediate
and informed response.
Streamlined communications. Security officials tasked with protecting
a widespread network of facilities often face the daunting task
of ensuring proper communication channels exist. With a cloudbased
service model, healthcare facilities can rely on integrator partners
to help bridge the gap between effective security oversight and
communication of day-to-day challenges.
Scalability and flexibility. Video is a valuable tool for any facility
when it comes to proactively identifying the most prominent risks
facing the organization. As a healthcare establishment grows, adds
new locations for services, or its technology systems become more
advanced, using a cloud solution to store and manage video data
allows for rapid adjustment and agility, reducing the complexity that
might come with expansion. With the cloud, owners can gain more
insight into daily operations and ensure all organizational and security
goals are met on both a day-to-day basis and in the future—all
from a single-pane-of-glass platform.
Data security. While the security of data in the cloud is certainly
a much-discussed issue, the fact of the matter is that with the
proper protocols in place, the cloud can actually enhance data protection.
Dealing with patient confidentiality and privacy protocols
for care information makes this especially critical. Healthcare
facilities can reduce their security footprint through the cloud, and
by utilizing practices such as vulnerability testing, password etiquette,
software patches and encryption, sensitive data is sure to be
out of the reach of bad actors. Additionally, public cloud providers
have invested significant funds into ensuring their networks are
protected and that their services ensure the utmost uptime—it’s
critical to the business model to do so. This approach enables
healthcare facilities to have peace of mind that security and reliability
are taken care of.
Automatic updates. The cloud takes the burden off of IT departments
when it comes to system management, as upgrades and security
fixes are automatically installed. This is especially important for a
smaller healthcare establishment that only has a limited—or nonexistent—
IT team, as it takes the maintenance and operational concerns
out of their hands.
Cost-effectiveness. The upfront investment in a cloud services
model is much more affordable than a hardware-based model.
Deploying a cloud-based solution doesn’t require an upfront capital
investment, but instead introduces a service-based arrangement
where users pay for the amount of video data, storage and add-ons
they use. This also helps build a long-term relationship with an integrator
for continued support. On-premise video storage and management
is also a significant investment, which can add up as a healthcare
conglomerate expands into multiple regions and facilities.
Moving video storage and management to the cloud cuts down on
this added expense.
Connected to Success
Cloud-based architecture for security is at the core of achieving a
connected healthcare network where dispersed facilities can be a successful
piece of the overall puzzle without becoming a liability. With
critical patient information, network concerns, limited IT resources
and the need to seamlessly connect into a larger system, the cloud is
poised to allow these facilities to strengthen their strategies to protect
patients, staff and assets.
This article originally appeared in the July/August 2019 issue of Campus Security & Life Safety.