Healthcare News & Insights

4 security trends to keep hospitals safe and cost-efficient

Hospitals are expected to face more security threats than ever in 2014 — both physical and technological. Many healthcare facilities have turned to these security options in their on-going efforts to beef up security without breaking the bank. 

78487379Finding ways to balance your hospital’s protection and its budget can be challenging. Fears about information breaches and physical threats (i.e., active shooters or weather emergencies) coupled with shrinking budgets have hospital administrators worried about overexposure.

Thankfully there are some options that offer extensive protection without requiring huge expenditures.

Here are some of the popular security tools being implemented by hospitals and other large healthcare facilities, courtesy of James Barbour at SecurityInfoWatch.

Emergency notification systems

Emergency notification systems give hospitals the chance to find and determine active threats while alerting employees quickly to the danger. Healthcare facilities have begun integrating notification systems that allow electronic devices, like smartphones, to be used as instant panic buttons and alarms. Employees can use the system to immediately alert the proper people of possible danger, even if there are multiple incidents occurring at the same time.

Ultimately, this substantially reduces the response time and possibility of human errors when alerting authorities. Not only is this useful in case of threats like an active shooter, the systems can also help hospitals respond quickly in weather-related emergencies like temperature drops, power outages or fires.


Biometrics have seen a big boost in interest over the past few years. As the technology continues to develop, hospitals will find it easier and cheaper to implement biometrics into their security systems. Popular biometrics include fingerprinting, facial recognition, retina scans and hand measurements. Hospitals have found these especially useful in protecting electronic health records and other high-value targets like controlled substances storage, often using biometrics to replace traditional key cards or passwords which can be stolen or forged.

Unfortunately, some people question the reliability of the technology. Age, injuries and certain illnesses may alter physical characteristics of employees and thus lead to false rejections from areas and databases.

Easily the biggest detriment of biometrics is the high cost for their initial installation. That means it might be most cost-effective for hospitals to implement a hybrid system combining biometrics and traditional security methods. Low-value targets can continue to use access IDs and passwords, while high-value targets can use biometrics to add an extra tier of security.

License plate recognition

License plate recognition gives hospitals the chance to identify and resolve threats before they even make it inside the building. License plate recognition may not stop unknown threats, but it can help identify known offenders or terminated employees who may be on-site without valid reasons. This can be especially helpful since many incidents of workplace violence involve somebody known to the victim.

The biggest hang-up here is that organizations must be sponsored by local law enforcement in order to use a license plate recognition system.

Virtual fencing

Virtual fencing combines multiple technologies to create invisible barriers around facilities. They can set off alarms if surveillance finds intruders “breaking” the barrier or unusual amounts of foot traffic in certain areas. Thankfully they can be installed into your current security and surveillance systems, making them especially cost-efficient to use.

The downside: Some people have raised concerns about using virtual fencing and losing the visual sense of security traditional fences and physical boundaries create.

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