The stakes are higher when it comes to hospital security. Patients expect and deserve privacy and safety. Yet a hospital building or complex must remain a welcoming and supportive space, around the clock. Mechanical lock and key technology may be too passive for this modern healthcare environment, but that does not mean users should abandon the familiarity of keys altogether, because not all keys are created equal.

Programmable electronic key systems

Programmable electronic key systems put sophisticated access control into the form of a traditional key

Programmable electronic key systems put the advantages of sophisticated access control into the form of a traditional key. They reinvent the key for the 21st century, making it more flexible, more powerful and better equipped to handle the security demands of a busy place. Lost keys and departed employees are no longer a problem, because their key’s access rights can be cancelled with a click.

And at multiple secure points around the hospital, the familiarity of a key is welcome to a user group who are not experts — at least, not in access control technology.

CLIQ locking system

Keys can be as smart as any card-based credential. For example, CLIQ technology from ASSA ABLOY backs up the familiarity and ease of use of key-based locking with the flexible management and real-time security features of an intelligent electronic access system.

A CLIQ locking system consists of battery-powered, programmable keys; cable-free padlocks and cylinders that are easy to retrofit to almost any standard opening; and management software that can be run locally or via a secure cloud. For users, CLIQ means carrying a single, programmable key pre-loaded to unlock all authorised openings — not just doors, but also gates, alarm boxes, cabinets and lifts. Say goodbye to huge key rings.

Programmable key solution

For hospital security managers, a programmable key solution enables users to create personalised access schedules — even for temporary contractors — and collect audit trails for doors or keyholders automatically. Staff travels into, out of and through the hospital based on set rules and programmed into their keys.

Many hospitals find CLIQ invaluable in managing access to medicines and other controlled substances. Nursing staff using older mechanical key systems struggle to keep track of who has the right keys. Searching for that person to gain access to drugs wastes precious time. Unauthorised access to drug stores can, of course, bring serious financial and safety implications.

Medicine management with key-based access control

Lock electronics are powered by the battery inside every key, so the retrofit was cable-free

At Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Birmingham, pharmacy managers sought a better solution adapted to nurse-accessed medicine stores. They chose a PROTEC2 CLIQ system which combines mechanical disc cylinders with battery powered, programmable CLIQ keys. Lock electronics are powered by the battery inside every key, so the retrofit was cable-free. CLIQ devices secure doors, cabinets and mobile drug trolleys within the same access system. Security and pharmacy managers can see who opened every lock whenever they want — making medicine audits and incident investigation much easier.

Programmable key solutions can really boost medicine safety in hospitals,” says Stephan Schulz, CLIQ Product Manager at ASSA ABLOY Opening Solutions EMEA. “Nurses at Queen Elizabeth, Birmingham, carry their own key with personalised access rights, so they don’t waste time finding out who has the key to every cupboard. Patients benefit. A similar system trialled at Scunthorpe Hospital found the total wasted time eliminated would equate to having an additional 24 nurses on duty across the Trust every day,” Stephan Schulz adds.

Key-based access control solution

Key-based access solutions are equally comfortable at scale. At University Hospital Frankfurt 1,100 eCLIQ cylinders secure doors in a new building. A fully electronic implementation of CLIQ technology, eCLIQ cylinders and keys are easy for staff to use and for hospital security managers to administer from web-based software.

The CLIQ Web Manager makes it easy to program, reprogram and audit every CLIQ key, cylinder or padlock. Because the interface is accessible from anywhere with an internet connection — via multifactor login over https:// — users can manage a CLIQ system whenever and from wherever they choose. Its architecture supports multiple administrators or sites.

CLIQ Web Manager

The Web Manager also integrates easily with all kinds of business management software, helping users automate tedious operations and processes. They can also make the Web Manager one element within an existing access control system.

The Web Manager can run in a self-hosted IT environment or completely free of local software installation with two different Software as a Service (SaaS) solutions, Shared SaaS or Dedicated SaaS with hosting just for users and maintenance schedules set by them. With either option, the security software is always up-to-date — a major benefit in healthcare, where confidentiality makes cyber-attack resistance critical.

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