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Access Control Systems for Healthcare Facilities

Nedap modern access control for the Protestant hospital

Security is a top priority for healthcare facilities and hospitals. They handle and store numerous patient medical records on an everyday basis, and need to abide by HIPAA laws in keeping them secure. In addition, they need to assure the safety and security of important sensitive data, business assets, medications, medical supplies, as well as staff and patients. This is why access control systems are a must-have for all kinds of healthcare facilities. 

Top Benefits

In addition to security and compliance needs, access control systems offer tons of benefits to healthcare providers. Here are some of those top advantages:

Data and Patient Record Security

Keeping patient records and business data secure is of the utmost importance for healthcare facilities. HIPAA laws require healthcare providers to keep patient information secure at all times. Not only must healthcare facilities comply with this law, but they also have a duty to protect their patients’ information for ethical purposes. If their personal information were to be exposed, the healthcare practice would lose the trust of their patients.

 Additionally, healthcare centers typically have all kinds of sensitive data in their computer systems, including protected health information. Healthcare centers and hospitals must take all measures possible to protect this data from security breaches, and access control is a reliable method for them to do so. 

Physical Security

Healthcare facilities also must take measures to ensure physical security. There are all kinds of sensitive materials stored in healthcare centers, such as drugs and medications and medical equipment. These items need to be kept in a secure place, that is only accessible by authorized personnel. There are also often areas of healthcare facilities that need to implement extra security in order to grant access to only certain people. For instance, maternity wards, emergency rooms, intensive care units, and other sensitive areas often require access control systems to limit traffic.

In addition, hospitals and other centers that have overnight patients and late-night shifts must do whatever they can to keep patients and staff members safe at all times. Access control systems can come equipped with high-grade locking mechanisms, alarms, and more to make sure the chance of theft is reduced as much as possible.

No touch access

Since healthcare centers are usually home to sick patients and germs, it is important to limit “touch points” as much as possible. Access control systems can allow “no touch access” through various entryways throughout the facility. This way, you are able to avoid the spread of germs and reduce the amount of time you need to spend disinfecting areas.

Convenient integrations

Access control systems are also beneficial because they allow healthcare professionals to easily integrate with back-end systems. For instance, access control systems can often include a time and attendance feature, which easily tracks the times in which staff members clock into and out of work. Not only can this help you keep track of attendance reliably, but it also helps administrators gain oversight over employees for security purposes. Access control systems can also integrate with various back-end software.

Common Healthcare Practices who use Access Control

These days, a majority of healthcare practices can benefit from access control. However, some facilities are larger than others and have more patients and visitors entering their doors on a regular basis. While access control is a must-have for large facilities, we urge every healthcare center to consider an access control system to ensure safety and security.

Here are some common types of healthcare practices and units who use access control:

  • Hospitals
  • Healthcare office buildings
  • Nursing and Hospice homes
  • Rehabilitation center
  • Emergency rooms and Urgent Care
  • Intensive care units
  • Birth centers
  • Surgical centers
  • Dialysis centers
  • Blood banks
  • Imaging and radiology centers
  • Mental health facilities

Best Access Control Systems for Hospitals

Luckily, there are many different access control systems that healthcare centers can choose from, and most comply with HIPAA standards. Different healthcare centers will have different needs. For instance, they may have different units and wards, types of patients, and facility layouts. Access control system providers are usually able to cater to these different needs, by offering different kinds of systems that can best suit them.

Here are a few different types of access control that healthcare providers can choose from:

Swipe cards

Swipe cards are a common form of access control in healthcare facilities and hospitals. Each staff member is issued their own card, which has their access credentials programmed into it. Their cards also often include a photo ID, for extra security purposes. Then, each staff member can use their card to access various doors throughout the facility. Swipe cards can also easily be attached to a lanyard, which healthcare professionals can attach to their scrubs so they remember to carry it with them at all times. They can also use these cards to display their photo ID to security guards, so they can enter the building securely.

Keypad readers

Keypad readers involve a locking mechanism on each door, which grants access based on a passcode that each staff member must type in. access control systems with keypad readers can be programmed to require a different passcode on each door, as an extra security measure. However, there are a few disadvantages to keypad readers. For instance, they do not allow no-touch entry, and passcodes can potentially be accidentally passed along to unauthorized personnel.

Biometric systems

Biometric readers are high-grade access control systems. They require authorized staff members to scan their fingerprint, palm print, or retina to enter each door. Sometimes they even provide facial recognition features. This kind of access control is highly reliable and reduces the possibility of unauthorized access. However, they can be quite pricey.

Multi-Factor authentication

Some healthcare centers opt for multi-factor authentication in their access control system. This means that in order to enter each door, staff must provide two forms of identification to get granted access. Some common forms of identification that qualify are passcodes, mobile device codes, swipe cards, finger prints, and more. This access control method can be very useful in making sure each person requesting access is who they say they are. However, it can be slightly time-consuming for healthcare professionals who are constantly busy while on the job.

Cloud-based systems

Cloud-based access control typically involves granting access through staff members’ personal mobile devices. Normally, staff members will download an app to their smartphone, which generates a code when they need to enter each door. This is usually scanned by the access control reader, which allows access. This can be very practical, as most people nowadays carry their phone with them wherever they go. It is also more personalized to the staff member. However, it is possible that staff members misplace or lose their device, which would put the healthcare facility at risk for unauthorized access.

Add-on Security Features to Consider

Oftentimes, healthcare facilities need additional security technologies on top of access control in order to ensure full-grade security. Some other security assets that can help healthcare facilities ensure their safety are:

To learn more about common physical security needs, take a look at our physical security checklist and access control checklist.

If you would like to get started looking at access control systems for your healthcare facility, we can help! Connect with us here via our free, no-obligation service.

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