Health-care organizations (HCO) face a vast range of challenges day in and day out, all underscored by needing to operate within a complex, highly regulated environment. This makes it imperative they find service providers — such as security integrators — that understand the health-care industry’s ever-changing landscape, can render timely and expert advice, and will work with them to increase the productivity of their systems and workforces.
While there are many ways to serve HCOs, the ability to provide security audits, understand trending technologies and connect with IT departments are areas of interest that can help you get your foot in the door.
Security Audits Assist Compliance
One way to show value to local HCOs is working with them on their security audits and compliance issues. Hospitals take industry rules and measures very seriously, spending a fair amount of time analyzing and reviewing their own policies and procedures to assure they are aligned with these regulations. You can be a ‘fresh set of eyes’ that brings a new perspective to your customer. That, in turn, can create opportunities for you as a security integrator to provide the solutions to any found issues.
Security audits assess the HCO’s compliance with the standards it is required to meet or have agreed by which to abide. For instance, if a policy or procedure has been written around emergency lockdown, an audit determines if the HCO is doing what it has said it will do, such as practicing the lockdown procedures twice a year. And, if the policy is being followed, is the exercise being documented, are the results being analyzed and is it leading to plans for improvements?
For instance, during the lockdown exercise it may be determined the process took a total of 20 minutes rather than the required 10 minutes. The assessment would spell out where and why the process broke down, make recommendations for improvement to either the process or systems and technology involved, and most likely call for an additional lockdown exercise to test if the improvements effectively altered the results. Who better than the integrator to determine the root causes, suggest recommendations for needed improvements and make the fixes?
Hospitals accredited by The Joint Commission are also required to perform an annual Hazard Vulnerability Assessment (HVA). The review covers all hospital departments and takes an “all hazards” approach to ensure the hospital is prepared to respond to an incident. This includes identifying critical organizational assets, the impact of significant incidents, internal and community resources and capabilities, the HCO’s overall preparedness and many other aspects of emergency planning, response, and recovery. Reports, evaluation plans and number-crunching are all part of the review.
In addition, The Joint Commission and its assessment approach requires institutions to be in a state of “continuous survey readiness” and has raised the bar on performance throughout its entire three-year accreditation cycle. These self-examinations help facilities stay within accreditation standards while also allowing them to assess risk, identify additional security needs and help ensure a safe environment of care for patients, physicians, employees, volunteers and visitors. This is an area where outside partners can lend valuable knowledge and perspective to HCOs.
Build Rapport With IT Professionals
As in many other industries, more and more health-care security system decisions are being made with input from the IT department. And we’re seeing increased convergence of physical and logical security team structures. By welcoming their involvement and showing ability to speak their language and answer their questions, you will gain additional layers of approval within the organization.
Another partnership that may also prove valuable is with IT systems integrators. Health-care providers are already working with this segment of integration experts in their implementation of Electronic Health Record (EHR) and other technologies. Just as you are an expert in physical security integration and have strong relationships with your customers, building relationships with IT systems integrators could broaden both companies’ customer bases and build your combined reputations as innovative service providers.
Provide Converged Solutions
HCOs too frequently depend on independently operated ‘silos’ of systems and processes that don’t allow for data to be exchanged among them. This approach can result in duplicated efforts, delayed response times, complicated compliance issues and, even more critically, can lead to uninformed decision-making. This is not only true for security-related systems but also for systems running the broader physical environment and, inevitably, systems across the enterprise. Having a core understanding of these challenges and the available technologies that can bring disparate systems together will provide you with solutions your competition may not have.
Although optimizing disparate technologies has been an ongoing challenge, it has often taken a backseat to other priorities. But now, as HCOs are focusing more on increasing efficiencies and driving down operating costs, solutions that offer the ability to leverage their existing technology and data, optimize their workforce and operate more efficiently are coming to the forefront.
Health-care leaders are looking for new ways to link their systems. While much attention is given to EHR and other clinical systems, the convergence of disconnected technologies such as building management and automation, physical security, patient interaction, and business management will also improve performance and reduce risk. As a result, it is important integrators become familiar with solutions, such as Nverge Enterprise System Manager from Ingersoll Rand, that were developed to improve health-care provider intelligence through the convergence of these disconnected technologies.
While creating a connected environment is at the core of such solutions, aggregating the connected systems data, automating tasks, and creating workflows is where the real power lies. And, whether it is real-time situational awareness or customized dashboards and reports, software can now enable HCOs to be more informed and better-equipped to make mission-critical decisions.
Convergence solutions such as Nverge are designed to be flexible depending on the customers’ needs (see sidebars). Integration can be a simple connection of just two systems in one location, or among a number of different systems across the enterprise. You can increase your value in helping HCOs integrate systems, including access control, video systems, HVAC, credential management, personnel scheduling, remote monitoring and more. Being able to do what your competition can’t will put your firm in good stead.