Improving the Patient Experience

Deployed systems can help improve operations and function as force multiplier

To remain competitive, today's hospitals are becoming “smarter”, applying analytics and artificial intelligence to deliver a superior patient experience. Leveraging the latest generation of technology to optimize clinical processes, communications systems, facility operations, resource management, and – of course – security has become the norm.

Most security professionals are familiar with how analytics improve their security operations, but they may not realize that the systems they're deploying can help improve operations in other ways, too. Today's communications devices, such as cameras, sensors, intercoms, and speakers allow healthcare campuses to transcend the typical physical security workflows. Let's begin with the most intimate setting – patient rooms – and work our way outward.

Patient rooms. A growing number of hospitals are installing cameras in patient rooms. Room cameras enable virtual rounding, nursing, and remote provider consultations, and they can do more with analytics added by serving as a force multiplier for critically understaffed nursing teams. Camera analytics can recognize conditions that require attention, like when patients leave their bed or take a fall.

They can sense if a visitor is in the room – or if there are too many visitors. Harmonic sensors, integrated within cameras or mounted as separate devices, can detect coughing, yelling, sounds of aggression and other noises to trigger an alert to relevant care providers. With staffing stretched thin, the intelligence provided by these systems directs nurses' attention to patients with immediate needs while documenting the status of others who can be left sleeping or unattended. By doing so, they improve satisfaction and reduce the stress levels of patients and nurses.

Departments. Next, let us look at how analytics offer benefits at the departmental level. Advanced analytics tools allow hospitals to monitor and analyze data to identify potential security threats, safety issues, operational inefficiencies, and other undesirable or dangerous situations – and then take measures to address them. Here are some examples of how various departments might use them.

Maternity Wards and NICUs
Loitering detection by entrances and exits. While infant abductions from hospitals are infrequent, they do occur. Video analytics can detect when people are loitering near entrances or exits, possibly indicating suspicious intentions.

Aggression detection. The ability to process harmonics of aggression in the human voice allow for alerting to security staff of potential violence or escalation in sensitive areas.

Emergency Departments
LPR for drop offs. License plate recognition (LPR) technology can monitor vehicles entering and exiting the Emergency Department. If a car is associated with a known malevolent actor – someone on a watch list – security can respond proactively before a potential security risk becomes an active threat.

Speed detection for fast incoming vehicles. The proximity of patient drop-off areas to receiving areas makes speed detection important. Analytics alert security when vehicles travel at high speeds near the ED entrance.

Pharmacies
Line queuing. Many hospitals offer outpatient pharmacies – allowing prescriptions to be filled on-site and creating a fully integrated healthcare experience. By acting on analytics data, pharmacy management can optimize staffing levels, allocate adequate space for safe distancing, and reduce patient wait times.

People counting. Crowded spaces can be hazardous, especially when filled with others who are ill. People counting technology can monitor the number of people entering and exiting the pharmacy and help administrators develop policies to prevent overcrowding.

Blocked Entrances/Exits: Hospitals can use video analytics to detect if entrances or exits to the pharmacy are blocked. Such conditions may indicate a security threat that requires attention.

Aggression detection. The availability of drugs and money behind the counter makes hospital pharmacists vulnerable to security threats. Audio analytics can detect when people speak loudly or aggressively in the pharmacy, alerting security personnel that intervention may be needed.

Registration, Scheduling and Common Areas
Fall detection. Hospitals can use video analytics to detect when patients or visitors fall in public areas such as waiting rooms or hallways. Real-time alerts get help to the scene immediately. Plus, bookmarked video clips of such events can help defend hospitals against unwarranted liability claims.

Additional analytics. Like other hospital departments, these areas can benefit from monitoring line queueing, overcrowding and aggression. Automated alerts give hospital administrators a heads-up to immediate problem situations, while aggregated data can spot trends to justify resource allocation for improving the patient and visitor experience.

Campuses. The outer layer of a hospital is where the patient experience begins and ends. Finding the correct entrance, parking area and parking space is not always easy. Vehicle counting and traffic analytics can assess lot capacity and direct visitors to available parking closest to various entrances when linked to automated signage.

License plate recognition systems (LPR) can make parking more convenient for pre-registered patients or visitors. Vehicles on a pre-approved list may gain access to priority parking or skip payment at the lot's entry or exit gate.

Many emergency towers and intercom systems can now respond autonomously to certain conditions. Their integrated cameras can identify if a person has fallen and make a call for help. They may issue visual or audio warnings if they detect suspicious behavior and trigger a live connection to a human officer.

Parking garages and remote lots, often perceived as dangerous, feel safer with the help of intelligent lighting and VoIP communication systems triggered by human or vehicle motion. If loitering is detected, the system can order troublemakers to vacate the parking area and summon officers to the location.

Audio analytics can perceive and differentiate between glass breaking, shouting, and other indicators of distress, aggression, or violence. They know when a car alarm goes off and where it is. Other analytics identify vehicles going in the wrong direction, parked illegally, or blocking an aisle. Any of these events immediately push live video of the situation to on-site security officers' phones and computers. Sometimes, they link to integrated apps for coordination with law enforcement and first responders.

With increased pressure to provide optimal care for its communities, all eyes are on the patient experience. The public is aware of how nearby facilities rank for attentive nursing care, convenient scheduling, general cleanliness, perceived safety, ease of parking, accessibility to visitors, and other factors. Investments in analytics are proving worthwhile as they make hospital operations faster, safer and smarter.

When looking to upgrade healthcare campuses with the latest smart solutions, technologies supported by security integrators are an intelligent place to start.

This article originally appeared in the November/December 2023 issue of Campus Security Today.

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