Taking a Connected Approach

Taking a Connected Approach

An innovative approach results in a more secure healthcare facility

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, including:

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.