We’ve entered 2022, and the fields of healthcare and public safety have become inextricably fused to one another. In particular, hospital safety and security teams are dealing with numerous modern challenges posed by the pandemic, staffing shortages, violence in the workplace, and a greater public interest in transparency when it comes to safety and security practices. Cutting edge cloud technology can help address several of these areas by streamlining video surveillance practices and strengthening the safety team’s SOPs, resulting in increased confidence and peace of mind throughout the entire facility. Today we’re looking at a 350+ camera project we embarked on with Maury Regional Medical Center in Columbia, TN, as well as how they’re already making great use of their new system to better serve the community.
Maury Regional Medical Center is a 255-bed hospital staffed by over 2,000 employees who serve more than 250,000 people in Middle Tennessee. With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, pressure to keep a large facility safe skyrocketed. The thing most concerning to Mike Short, Administrative Director of Safety and Security, was that the team’s strategy was almost exclusively reactive rather than proactive. Heading into 2021, he was hoping to empower his staff with a more streamlined approach to safety – one that emphasized preemptively addressing potential incidents before they took place, or identifying and responding to suspicious activity in real time, rather than depending on communication after the fact.
Short contracted Preventia to design and build a new state of the art hospital surveillance system. Over the course of five months, Preventia installed over 350 security cameras equipped with cloud technology that allows for live monitoring, remote management and the use of smart analytics. Almost immediately, this highly-intelligent, comprehensive system proved its value.
“The game changer is that we are able to change our security surveillance strategy from passive to active,” comments Short. “Previous to our partnership with Preventia, we looked at cameras simply to verify information and try to learn and prepare for the next time. Now we’re able to see things as they happen and respond in real time. It’s a tremendous workforce multiplier in security and it’s like having more eyes and ears around the hospital. We’ve been able to see things and prevent them, where in the past we would have only been able to respond retroactively.”
Take, for example, the patient who decided to leave their designated area and exit the hospital on their own accord without notifying staff. With such a robust application of cameras tracking multiple points on major travel paths, the security team was able to watch the patient go from their area down the hallway, to a specific elevator, and out of a specific door. They were able to immediately relay this information to the nearest officers, and what in the past might have been a full-blown search throughout an entire floor, wing, or even the facility as a whole, was reduced to simply responding to the precise door at which the patient wound up.
Additional anecdotes Short related included: using the system’s loitering detection capability to pick up clusters of people gathering closer than 6 feet apart, theft and mishandling of hospital supplies, vehicle damage occurring in parking lots, and an incident involving an individual who was not a patient who was seriously injured in his vehicle in the hospital parking lot. The security team was able to capture footage that detailed the vehicle features, license plate number, and create a timeline that enabled them to track movement of the involved vehicle. This provided confirmation that the victim had never entered the hospital and was neither a patient nor a visitor – valuable information that was provided to local law enforcement to assist with their investigation. These stories illustrate the primary benefit of a cloud based hospital surveillance system: the ability to cover a large area with minimal blind spots, as well as foster a smooth process of watching the movement of individuals throughout the facility as it happens.
Establishing this state of the art surveillance system isn’t as simple as hanging cameras around every corner. Great care must be taken to determine where these mechanical eyes are most needed while still honoring patient privacy and making the most out of the safety department’s budget.
“The goal wasn’t to create this sort of always watching, ‘gotcha’ system that was looming over our employees and patients,” explained Short. “We’re here to make people feel safer while they’re working or receiving care here. So we’re cognizant of how we can do our jobs the best while respecting patients’ privacy. Enhancing our surveillance capability, increasing our camera count and centralizing the monitoring effectiveness without a doubt makes our hospital a safer place for our patients to be cared for and our employees to safely accomplish their mission.”
This was just one of many reasons that Short worked closely with consultants from Preventia over the course of several months – to develop an intentional installation plan that could efficiently cover high-traffic areas while giving his team the flexibility they needed to adapt to changing needs.
Another benefit to hiring a professional security installer was the choice of equipment. Not all cameras are created equal, and each solution on the market comes with its own strengths and weaknesses. Two top priorities were reducing lag and bandwidth consumption as much as possible. For incidents involving violence, suicide risks, or abductions, seconds count – and with a latency of less than one second, the system designed and installed by Preventia is some of the closest to real time surveillance possible in today’s camera systems. The replay speed is most impressive when watching individuals seamlessly walk out of one camera’s frame and into another, their movement so fluid it’s hard to believe the feedback is coming from two separate cameras. One would imagine such advanced equipment would take a heavy toll on bandwidth, but Preventia was able to work with Maury Regional’s infrastructure to design the system to be even less of a strain than their previous camera system.
The choice of software is equally important, and working with Preventia’s surveillance specialists allowed Short to choose the most relevant capabilities for his team. For example, the setup’s new camera analytics include a facial recognition feature that is sensitive enough to match the top half of the face only, meaning face masks no longer obscure a person’s identity. Clothing recognition can also be used to quickly narrow down clips – for example, pulling up all videos taken in the last 48 hours containing a person in a red shirt.
The potential applications of the system are myriad, and best of all – the entire setup was built with scalability and flexibility in mind. As of this writing, Short is continuing to work with Preventia on expansions to even more wings of the hospital – improvements that benefit the entire staff body. “The aim was always to empower my team and give peace of mind to the rest of our staff,” he explains. “We know that our healthcare staff is more at ease knowing that we’re here and watching out for them, and now we have more power to help them than ever before. I’m excited to see what we can accomplish in the future.”
And the possibilities for the future truly are exciting! Some of the additional uses of cloud surveillance already in use by medical centers across the country include:
- Fall detection – one case study saw over 2,700 fall incidents prevented per month using continuous video monitoring
- Cost reduction – the same study managed to save over $87,000 in bedside sitter costs in Q1 2019
- Promoting staff confidence and peace of mind
- Reducing liability risk
- Alleviating staff shortage pressures by empowering smaller safety teams to do more
- Integration with access control (ex. having restricted doors open automatically when detecting the face of an authorized person, which also reduces touch points and limits spread of disease)
- Object detection for quick identification of hazardous objects or weapons
These are just a few applications we have seen, with many more advancements still to come.
With the world in a seemingly constant health crisis, it is imperative that healthcare facilities be equipped to provide a safe environment for patients and staff. They need smart, fast, adaptable, and reliable technology to keep up with modern security concerns, whether it be related to infection, workplace violence, or simply a need to boost staff confidence. A multitude of factors contribute to the success of a hospital surveillance system including having the right technology, the right balance between capabilities and burden on infrastructure, and most importantly, a high quality consultant and installer.
We’re grateful to have the opportunity to work with Maury Regional, and are proud to have designed a product that has empowered their security staff, mitigated a variety of safety and liability threats, and fostered satisfaction among non-security staff. The success of Maury Regional’s safety team is only beginning, with even more advancements and expansions already underway. When you have the right combination of dedicated security professionals and an experienced, high-integrity provider, the sky’s the limit when it comes to making healthcare facilities centers of safety, stability, healing, and hope.
Acknowledgments & Further Reading
Special thanks to Mike Short and Mike Johnson for partnering with us on this project and taking the time to share their stories and insight with us. This project wouldn’t have been possible without the amazing collaborative effort with Maury Regional’s dedicated safety and security team. In addition, we would like to thank our commercial technicians, particularly Senior Technician Wayne Owens and Project Manager Gabe Arnett (R.I.P.), whose fantastic work on this project serves as a lasting tribute to his expertise and craftsmanship.
Authored by Megan Vescio, Director of Marketing at Preventia Security
Resources for further reading can be found below.
Abbe, J.R. & O’Keeffe, C. (2021.) Continuous Video Monitoring: Implementation Strategies for
Safe Patient Care and Identified Best Practices. Journal of Nursing Care Quality, 36(2),
Byon, H.D., Sagherian, K., Kim, Y., Lipscomb, J., Crandall, M., & Steege, L. (2021.) Nurses’
Experience With Type II Workplace Violence and Underreporting During the COVID-19
Pandemic. Workplace Health and Safety. Epub ahead of print. https://doi.org/10.1177/21650799211031233
Dašić, P., Dašić, J., & Crvenković, B. (2017.) Improving Patient Safety in Hospitals through
Usage of Cloud Supported Video Surveillance. Open Access Macedonian Journal of
Medical Sciences, 5(2), 101-106. https://doi.org/10.3889/oamjms.2017.042