Healthcare organisations face many challenges. Federal mandates associated with the Affordable Care Act (ACA), changing reimbursement models, an ageing population and competition are among the most concerning issues. Unfortunately, so are safety and security. However, video surveillance is helping. Through new technology, applications and analytics, video surveillance systems – and the data storage required to support them – are helping to make hospitals a safer place and providing a positive impact on the quality of care.

Security and surveillance trends

Security professionals in healthcare settings face many threats. Gang incidents, trespassing, patient outbursts and terrorism are all concerns they must protect against, not to mention drug related crimes and the risk of infant and child abduction. Incidents of violence are real possibilities, which places workplace violence and disorderly conduct at the top of the list of safety concerns.

“Violence is a real challenge for us,” said Mickey Watson, Director of Public Safety for the Sarasota County Hospital District in Sarasota, Florida. “We worry about active shooters and people pulling out knives and stabbing people. We have to worry about people driving cars into the crowd in front of our hospital. We see a rising level of violence among the patients in the emergency rooms. Even on the medical floors, we are seeing violent interactions with families, visitors, and other people on our campus.” According to Mickey, “Violence in the hospital and workplace violence have to be priorities for us, and we are always looking for ways to reduce the amount of violence.”

Surveillance systems outside hospitals

Observation and awareness are important. Security professionals rely on their surveillance system to help them monitor nearby streets, pavements, parking facilities, hallways, entrances, ambulance bays, and waiting areas for suspicious or threatening activity. This is helping to prevent incidents as well as identify vehicles in “dump-and-run” cases.

“Violence in the hospital and the workplace have to be priorities – we are always looking for ways to reduce the amount of violence”

“Dump-and-run cases—where a car pulls up to the hospital, dumps a patient out at the entrance, and pulls away—happen frequently,” said Mickey. “It’s usually someone who has been shot or stabbed. The first question our law enforcement partners want to know is if we have any video of the car. So we added a license plate recognition camera to take care of that.”

Better monitoring helps protect hospital settings. However, healthcare campuses are sprawling and becoming more decentralised. More and more services are being delivered outside the hospital itself, but those environments must still be protected. This is another area where video surveillance is helping.

“It used to be that everything happened at the hospital,” said Mickey. “Now we are seeing patient care move more out into the community and across the system. So we use camera technology at the locations where we can’t keep staff all the time. We use virtual patrols and video patrols. We use that to monitor trespassing and those kinds of situations.”

Constant observation camera programme

The population is ageing, resulting in a growing need for medical services. Thanks to longer life expectancy and the size of the Baby Boomer generation, the number of people aged 65 years or older is expected to reach 72 million within the next 25 years, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In addition, the CDC expects that nearly 20% of the U.S. population will be made up of older people by 2030, putting a lot of pressure on healthcare facilities. Older patients require more care and are at a higher risk of injury when on-site at a hospital or outpatient facility.

Sarasota Memorial Hospital in Florida uses a constant observation system to serve high-risk patients
Using a camera system eliminates the need to increase staff while ensuring patients are never out of the sight of a caregiver

According to Paul Baratta, Healthcare Business Development Manager at Axis Communications, “People are coming into the [healthcare] system at an older age. Falling and other medical emergencies are starting to become more prevalent. As a technology partner, we are trying to help healthcare organisations with fall prevention and not just fall detection.”

This is one area where video surveillance is helping improve the quality of care. Sarasota Memorial Hospital, the anchor facility in Mickey Watson’s district in Sarasota, Florida, uses a constant observation system to serve high-risk patients. According to Mickey, “We struggle with patients who are a fall risk. So we have implemented a constant observation camera programme where we actually have clinical professionals in a second control centre observing high-risk patients. We have 200 rooms that have the ability to provide constant observation.”

Clinical uses for video platforms

Using a camera system eliminates the need to increase staff while ensuring patients are never out of the sight of a caregiver. According to Mickey, constant observation cameras are such a benefit that they plan to include them in all future building specifications. “New rooms will be equipped with constant observation cameras,” said Mickey. “And we are expanding our control center and expect it to double in size this year.”

“We implemented a constant observation camera programme where clinical professionals can observe high-risk patients”

Healthcare organisations are seeing more and more clinical uses for video platforms. One is the constant observation system mentioned above. Another is the growing trend toward telemedicine, where patients are able to receive care remotely. A third use is the role of video in training clinical staff.

According to Mickey, “In my estimation, within the next 3-4 years the number of clinical-based camera platforms will actually exceed the number of security-based cameras that we have across the organisation” and according to Paul, “We [at Axis] really feel [the healthcare industry] is going to see more and more cameras and video and storage needed for clinical applications and training. The traditional security camera systems are going to morph into a larger system of patient quality and care and away from just security.”

Storage platform for healthcare organisations

Storage capacity in healthcare is growing at 30.1% compound annual growth rate (CAGR), according to a report from IHS. At Quantum, we see customers contending with growth driven by the adoption rate of high-definition (HD) cameras, the expanded use of camera systems to improve security, the growth in clinical-based camera applications and longer retention times due to litigation protection and analytics.

Meeting the video requirements of today’s healthcare organisations requires a multi-tiered storage platform capable of growing incrementally and integrating into a heterogeneous infrastructure while remaining cost-effective enough to deliver the total capacity needed within the constraints of already tight budgets.