Could cloud-based access control provide a simpler solution for hospital security?
Healthcare facilities around the world are doing their best to minimise the risk of contamination from COVID-19. It’s not only about PPE, but also security. Are you wondering how to improve the security of your healthcare facility while also saving time and money?
If so, you probably want to start by avoiding unnecessary physical meetings. With a cloud-based access control system in place, many physical meetings can now be avoided. For example, face to face encounters between administrators and employees for the hand-over of keys or access cards.
Healthcare facilities that are currently using electronic lock systems now have the option to choose a cloud-based software service which enables the provision of virtual keys. Such a service is easy to implement and works wherever there is mobile phone or wi-fi reception.
To send a virtual key to an employee, administrators at the hospital or care company log into a web interface and select the place, the time period and the person to whom access should be granted. With a single click, access rights are then sent to that person’s smartphone for touch-transfer to a card or connected wearable device and can be used right away. To ensure security, access rights must be sent between the administrator and the receiver via an encrypted channel. NFC (near-field communication) and BLE (Bluetooth low energy) technologies can then be used for communication between the user’s device and their card or wearable.
During the corona crisis, the advantages of efficient, over-the-air (OTA) key provisioning have become more obvious than ever. Eliminating the need for physical meetings, OTA provisioning significantly reduces the risk of contamination. And when temporary care staff are being assigned to different wards on a day-to-day basis, hospital administrators appreciate being able to update, revoke or prolong access rights remotely, on the go.
Keep unauthorised people out of high-risk areas
Healthcare facilities have always needed to restrict access to patients with infectious diseases, and the arrival of COVID-19 has only intensified that need. Now, with multiple wards dedicated to caring for those with the virus, it’s more important than ever to prevent unauthorised staff or visitors from wandering around, exposing themselves and others to contamination.
With a cloud-based access control system, only people who have been expressly granted personalised, virtual keys are allowed to pass through an entrance into a building, ward or private room. Hospital administrators, many of whom struggle to keep track of hundreds of staff coming and going every day, find that a remote web-based access solution makes their job much easier. By simply not granting access, they are able to keep unauthorised people out of high-risk areas and so reduce the spread of infection.
Using a web interface, the administrator selects the place, time period and person to whom they wish to grant access. Access rights are then sent over the air to the employee’s smartphone for touch-transfer to a card or connected wearable device and can be used right away. It is also possible to set up groups of people and/or locks on the web interface and send access rights to multiple users simultaneously. As the situation evolves, and different wards are assigned to caring for new patients, intensive care, convalescence etc., the administrator can easily update, revoke or prolong users’ keys in real time.
What’s more, all access rights can be logged, providing a valuable record for hospital managers to have full traceability and to help keep track of infections.
Eradicate theft of essential medical supplies
Healthcare providers around the world lose literally billions of dollars’ worth of equipment and supplies every year. Now, with the COVID-19 pandemic leading to shortages of basics like surgical masks and disinfectant wipes, this problem has become even more acute. The situation demands full control over who has access to the cupboards where these life-saving items are stored.
Traditional security systems are unable to deliver the precision and accuracy needed to safeguard vital supplies. Their most obvious weakness is that they offer only two options. Users either have access or they don’t. And if access is granted, it’s generally valid for 24/7 and 365 days/year. There is nothing to stop unscrupulous employees taking advantage of this freedom to pilfer supplies for resale.
By contrast, cloud-based access management services enable a finely tuned approach. They let hospitals grant access over the air to some people for some of the time, and to some parts of their site. And it’s easy to make adjustments on the fly.
Nobody can access a supply cupboard or medicine cabinet unless they’ve been expressly granted personal access rights. These come in the form of virtual keys which are sent to the users’ mobile phone. They are only valid for a specific place and time period, and once they expire, the key simply stops working.
In addition, the system logs who has had access to a given area, creating a powerful deterrent for would-be thieves. Similarly, it deters employees from ‘lending’ their access rights to other people, since the crime would be traced back to the original device owner and he or she would get the blame! Not surprisingly, healthcare facilities with cloud-based access management systems generally experience a rapid and dramatic reduction in losses.