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Using Surveillance Technology to Improve Patient Safety and Care
Posted: Fri Sep 13, 2019 12:23:35 PM

Providing quality patient care extends far beyond medical treatment—in fact, a growing number of malpractice in healthcare today relates to non-medical factors that put patients at risk of abuse and neglect.

As a result, many hospitals are building out comprehensive strategies with the aid of surveillance technology to improve patient safety, safeguard sensitive Physical Health Information, and effectively address incident resolution.

In this post, we’ll cover the benefits of video surveillance as it pertains to patient safety, patient privacy, and maintaining HIPAA compliance.

Assessing Patient Safety & Potential Risks

In a recently published guide outlining national patient safety goals, one of the key metrics in assessing patient safety is how well patient risk is identified and mitigated. The ability to identify patient risks—then build effective protocol in response to the situation—is particularly important, as the inability to do so can compromise the safety of faculty and other patients.

With surveillance technology that proactively monitors facilities and sends alerts of unusual motion—whether a door is left ajar, or patient movement is detected in prohibited areas after-hours—nurses and administrative staff can quickly triage risky situations before real threats arise.

Common areas that could benefit from surveillance technology:

  • Facility entrances and exits
  • Elevators and fire escapes
  • Entrances to restricted areas
  • Equipment or medicine storage closets

Putting mitigation procedures in place to streamline incident response and resolution is essential. While the type of intervention may vary based on the severity of the risk observed, it’s important that personnel have the resources they need to effectively protect themselves and other patients—whether it’s used proactively to mitigate a situation, or as a liability in response to an incident.

Maintaining HIPAA Compliance in Hospital and Healthcare Settings

Monitoring patients while maintaining HIPAA compliance faces a number of unique challenges. In fact, HIPAA compliance requirements often discourage some health facilities from implementing video surveillance in facilities altogether.

Some of the biggest concerns around surveillance monitoring in healthcare include:

  • Placing cameras in areas with privacy expectations (i.e. examination rooms, bathrooms)
  • Failure to train faculty on rightful security and privacy policies
  • Not performing regular assessments of surveillance equipment and footage

With growing concern around HIPAA compliance, many security vendors now focus specifically on providing surveillance solutions that meet patient privacy rules. When vendors share the responsibility of maintaining the latest security, storage, and accessibility standards through regular system upgrades, healthcare professionals are able to find the added layer of confidence they need to reap the benefits of surveillance, without exploiting the privacy of patients.

How Verkada helps hospitals and healthcare facilities achieve HIPAA compliance:

  • Controlled Access - Administrators have control over who has access to specific cameras across locations, ensuring proper levels of clearance are in place for viewing and maintaining footage.
  • Audit Logs - By providing records of all system activities, admins are able to track user logins and user permissions, ensuring that any unauthorized personnel does not have access to private patient footage and data.
  • End-to-End AES Encryption - All Protected Health Information is encrypted by default with the highest security settings, establishing the security of storage and transmission.
  • Expandable Video Storage Options - With cameras that store up to 120 days of footage locally (and unlimited cloud archiving), Verkada’s solution exceeds the mandatory requirement of 30 days of stored footage for any government-funded facility or organization.

Protecting Patient Privacy

Some of the biggest concerns around surveillance monitoring in healthcare draw the same conclusion—inadequate training for staff and outdated surveillance technology places healthcare facilities at risk of exploiting private patient information.

Although training is often perceived as a formality to introduce best practices, it is important that management enforces security training with the objective of educating staff about:

  • HIPAA Compliance and Privacy Rules
  • Patient Rights and Potential Violations of Patient Privacy
  • Breach Notifications and Employee Sanctions

Beyond staff training, conducting regular assessments of surveillance equipment and technology can safeguard the organization from becoming susceptible to cyber attacks. Upgrading to modern surveillance technology—from legacy systems that run on NVRs and DVRs—eliminate many of the risks introduced by opening firewalls and port-forwarding, two requirements that enable remote accessibility on legacy surveillance systems.

Bringing Patient Safety, Privacy, and HIPAA Compliance Together

The reality is that every healthcare facility has to navigate an array of different factors that impact patient safety. While physical security should be at the crux of these considerations and conversations, it’s also important to find a surveillance option that is cyber secure and meets HIPAA compliance so patient privacy is never compromised.

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