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Top 4 Issues that Keep Healthcare Security Directors up at Night

Tuesday, April 14, 2015  by Paul Kazlauskas

Keeping a healthcare facility secure is a very difficult, multi-faceted job. Security directors not only have to worry about physical security, they also have to be aware of network security and all the risks that are associated with that. Possible daily concerns include everything from staff-related issues to identifying & tracking visitors to the complications of new technologies. Here are the 4 most common security issues faced by security directors at healthcare facilities…

1) New security technologies. The popularity of smartphones and tablets in healthcare facilities has challenged security directors and their staff to keep current with their security policies. Bringing in your own device (BYOD) for work is becoming more and more common. New types of portable devices need to be understood and those devices need to be made secure. Staff need user training on how best to use portable devices so as not to compromise any patient data or the network of the healthcare facility. Some strategies include restricting access to protected health information, data wiping programs, remote access that provides multiple authorization factors, and limiting outside vendor access to the network.

2) Planning for unfortunate events. Having a plan in place for any number of adverse events is critical for security directors because once something bad happens, there isn’t any time to figure out what to do. There is only time to react and address the issue. The plans must already be set as there is only time to execute them in a crisis. Brainstorming a complete response to a particular event should be done ahead of time. Communication concerns should be addressed as well. Having a plan in place to address any number of issues is key to having a secure facility. Preparation and drills are the activities security directors should focus on. Preparing for adverse events is a long-term and essential project that requires a lot of planning and effective time management.

3) Training of staff. Having high quality training on security policies and processes is significant. Following up and testing associates to make sure that training sticks is the difference between a good security team and a great security team. The follow up is especially critical as new security technologies continue to change the security game. Associates should be encouraged to ask questions on policies and procedures, especially when it pertains to new security technologies. In addition, employees should be encouraged to bring up any new security technologies they hear about to their boss. The most successful security teams are passionate about their jobs and really “own” their success.

4) Policies and procedures. Many healthcare facilities have a vast amount of overlapping and inconsistent security policies in place that render them unmanageable. It is recommended developing concise security policies that are easy to find and understand, and were tailored to the facility in question. There are some great resources available to make sure documentation is prepared and managed properly. Two of the most prominent are the HIPAA Audit Protocol and the National Institute of Standards and Technology HIPAA Security Rule Toolkit.

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Efficiency and consistency are important to the visitor security of this New Jersey high school

Monday, April 13, 2015  by Andrew Jones

When a large high school in a New York City suburb needed a more convenient way to sign in visitors, it liked what the Visitor Pass Registry Book had to offer, with its automatic duplicate record sheets a standard feature and fluorescent orange visitor passes an attractive option.

“We are a rather large and busy institution, with 2,000 students and over 300 staff members,” says secretary Maryann Wasko of Montclair High School in New Jersey. “With the number of visitors increasing, these visitor pass registry books are more than meeting our needs.”

Ms. Wasko says she places a high value on the books’ ease of use and keeping a record of the visitor’s information for future needs. “The bright color visitor pass for the visitor to wear and be identified by our staff and security officers, as they walk around in the building, is very helpful,” she adds.

Montclair High School’s campus comprises two buildings: the main building and a separate building, for freshmen, located across the street. So having a consistent visitor security protocol is important, which the school has published on its website. All visitors must use the main entrances of each building, they must sign in and present a picture ID, and they must wear a visitor sticker at all times and return it to the front desk at the end of the visit.

“Our security officers in both of our buildings use the same visitor passes, gather the same information, and are all on the same page when it comes to the security of visitors to our high school,” says Ms. Wasko. “A major benefit to our high school is that Visitor Pass has streamlined the process of signing in visitors. I would certainly encourage others to try this system. It’s a great product!”

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Enhance School Security with these 6 technologies

Tuesday, April 07, 2015  by Paul Kazlauskas

1) Mass Messaging Software

If schools can only invest in one type of communication tool, mass messaging software should be it. This type of technology allows schools to send messages to students, staff, faculty, and parents when there is a threat. The messages can either be email, voice, or text. While a great tool for emergencies, this type of technology can also be used for more benign needs such as important reminders or notices to the school community.

2) Social Media Scanning Software
Cyber bullying is an important issue for schools nowadays. Many instances of cyber bullying occur on social media sites such as Facebook and Twitter. Since social media is used by so many students, it is important for the school administration to be on top of what is being said between their students so any conflict doesn’t lead to school violence. Social media scanning software scans posts against a proprietary database and alerts school officials to messages that pertain to school violence, suicide or cyber bullying. The goal is to allow the school to intervene before anything serious occurs. Tools like this have been used to successfully prevent teen suicide and school violence.

3) ID Card Access
Traditional locks that need to be opened with a key have their issues. Electronic access control is much safer and more effective. If someone loses an electronic key card, that card is simply deactivated so anyone who finds it can’t access an area they shouldn’t be in. If a traditional key is lost or stolen, the entire lock needs to be changed and new keys issued to everyone at a great expense. The important thing to remember is that all access points/school entrances need to be outfitted with electronic access control, not just the front door.

4) Desktop Alerts
In the event of an emergency, desktop alerts allow for warnings to pop up on the screen of every campus computer on the network. This is a great way supplement mass messaging software that send alerts via text or email. If a student or teacher is working in an area that does not have wireless or great cell service, they are still able to see a notification on their desktop PC.

5) Panic Buttons
Panic buttons are tiny contraptions worn by school staff that allow for instant contact with authorities and school administration in the event of an emergency. If trouble arises, the staff member simply pushes the button to make everyone aware of a threat in the school building. Some models have the ability to also be voice amplification systems, which would allow for even faster communication of a distressful situation. When every second counts, panic buttons allow for mass communication almost instantly.

6) Video Surveillance
A video surveillance system can be a great crime deterrent/security tool. People who realize they are being videotaped are less likely to commit a criminal act. Even if an incident does occur, video surveillance cameras are a great tool to help figure out what happened. In a school, it may not be reasonable to expect a staff member to watch the monitors all day. However, the cameras are great tools for looking back at the incident to determine exactly what happened and who may have been involved.

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Why a customer switched from manual visitor management to electronic visitor management

Friday, April 03, 2015  by Andrew Jones

In business, we all have to keep our eye on the competition. But when the toughest competition is ourselves, that’s okay.

Take one of our customers, Redding Elementary School, right here in Connecticut. They first started using our self-duplicating Visitor Pass adhesive badges more than 11 years ago to replace a system that used “internal stickers and pages we created in Word,” says Bobbie Granskog, one of the school’s secretaries.

In time, there were things about using our product that prompted the school to seek an even better solution. (Some of the issues with their manual visitor management system included illegible or incomplete entries; odd or ineffective placement of the visitor badge, such as on pants legs or discarded coats; and difficulty recovering visitor history, especially months later.)

The school recently switched to our eVisitorPass visitor management software system, which they find is “quick and easy to use,” Bobbie tells us.

“We now put these badges on easy-to-peel badge tags with lanyards,” she says. “So everyone is wearing the same visitor badge, in the same place, at all times. The visitor badges are bright and visible.

“Plus, we can easily scan through a report to determine if a visitor has been in the building and when they were here, how many times, and who they visited. It has been a great asset to our school.”

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Why Security Directors should embrace Patient and Family Centered Care

Wednesday, April 01, 2015  by Paul Kazlauskas

Patient and Family Centered Care is an approach to the planning, delivery and evaluation of healthcare that is grounded in mutually beneficial partnerships among patients, families, and healthcare practitioners. By truly partnering with patients and families – not only involving them in decisions about their care, but also gaining the benefit of their help and insights to better plan and deliver care – patients can achieve better outcomes, and hospitals can improve the care for all patients and increase staff satisfaction.

Research has demonstrated that the presence and participation of family members and friends—as partners in care—provides cost savings, enhances the patient and family experience of care, improves management of illnesses, enhances continuity of care, and prevents hospital readmissions (Boudreaux, Francis, & Loyacono, 2002). The research is also clear that isolating patients at their most vulnerable times from the people who know them best places them at risk for medical error, emotional harm, inconsistencies in care, and costly unnecessary care (Cacioppo & Hawkley, 2003; Clark, 2003).

Current “visiting” policies in many of our nation’s healthcare facilities are inappropriately restrictive, costly, put patients at risk, and contribute to emotional suffering for both the patient and family. Here are some reasons why security directors should embrace the concept of Patient and Family Centered Care…

The family's role as a partner of the care giving team will continue to expand. As success stories with Patient and Family Centered Care spread, more and more healthcare facilities will adopt it’s guidelines. No one knows the patient better than their family and friends and they should be part of the patient’s care.

24/7 family presence in the patient room is or will soon be the norm. Healthcare facilities are slowly recognizing their security limitations. They have an open-door policy and can’t put security personnel in front of every patient’s room. It is only a matter of time before 24/7 family or friend presence is the norm across the country. The days of visiting hours ending at 8pm will soon be over.

Failing to get on board will leave Security looking like they are obstructionists, instead of team players. Security personnel should be provided with training on how to welcome and support the needs of patients and their families/friends. This is especially true in the most high-stress areas of a hospital such as emergency and critical care situations.

Studies show that unimpeded family presence reduces stress and anxiety. No one enjoys being a patient in a hospital. It is stressful and the patient’s release is out of their control. Having a close relative or friend with you, whenever you want them to be, will reduce stress associated with being there and allow for a greater ability to focus on getting better. The patient’s precious energy can be better focused on their recovery.

Families improve patient safety and can reduce the level of agitation in patients suffering from delirium. Patients who are confused and in a strange place they don’t know well can become agitated. They may try to escape and cause harm to those healthcare facility employees who try to stop them or calm them down. To the confused patient, the healthcare facility employee is a stranger in their way. A close relative or friend can aid in calming the patient down and provide a much needed familiar face during a stressful time.

Families provide the first line of defense against security concerns such as theft, assault. A patient may not be conscious or strong-enough to ward off any attempt by a person to steal or hurt them. Healthcare facilities have an open door policy compared to schools and many businesses across America. There is a very low ratio of security guards to patient rooms. Security guards can’t be everywhere, so having a physically and mentally abled relative or friend is a great line of defense.

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