Technologies to improve hospital management

1 September 2020 CCTV, Surveillance & Remote Monitoring

When it comes to new technologies, there is no standardisation between hospitals with regards to project ownership. A project conducted by hospital operations at one hospital could be headed by the security department in another, or the IT manager at a third. Even within the same hospital, a project can change hands several times.

This characteristic reinforces the understanding that technologies can have a much broader usability beyond that for which they were originally intended. Such is the case with the use of video surveillance, access control and audio systems to improve hospital management.

Detecting one-way circulation

As data-capturing sensors, smart cameras can detect if one or more persons ignore the warning signs and make an unauthorised re-entry. They do this by using a video analytic called ‘Wrong Way’. When wrong way movement is detected, the camera generates an instant alert to operators in the control room. Operators can then ask a security officer to intervene in the interest of public safety. In this case, the technology not only works automatically, but above all preventatively.

Reducing theft

Unfortunately, hospital equipment and supply theft is routine. Internal theft by hospital staff is a significant problem. Patients and their families may also contribute to hospital shrinkage by packing extra supplies with them when they leave.

“But hospital theft is not limited to hospital goods. Theft of personal items belonging to patients, their families and hospital staff is also a risk. And some people enter the hospital with the sole intent to steal,” says Clifton Greeff, national surveillance business manager at Duxbury Networking, distributor of Axis surveillance technology.

Clifton Greeff.

Installing high-resolution cameras with a wide viewing angle in critical locations is one of the most effective measures in reducing instrument and medical supply theft. Some cameras even have the ability to generate an automatic alarm if someone covers the lens.

“But more can still be done. By installing an access control system, such as AXIS A8105-E Network Video Door Station, with integrated video surveillance, hospitals have a reliable record of all persons who entered or exited a specific area, and can easily conduct investigations. One simply needs to enter the name of the employee or patient in the system, and watch the video recordings of all movement involving that individual,” Greeff points out.

Many cameras also feature object and motion detection. They recognise when there is movement in the scene – for example, when someone enters an empty operating room – and start recording right away. This avoids overburdening the network with the data traffic of images that do not have relevant information – such as an empty rehabilitation room – thus reducing the need for data storage. More than that, the motion detection analytic makes it possible to quickly search camera video feeds and get a summary of the event that happened, eliminating the moments when the room was empty.

The same solution of access control and event triggered video recording can also be used in restricted areas such as hospital pharmacies, where visits may be infrequent and there are high-value goods to protect. In such installations, the pharmacy door opens only if the person has permission to be there. Detecting motion, the lights then turn on and the camera begins recording.

Enforcing visiting hours

Most hospitals have visitation policies governing the hours, and even the length of time a critical patient may have visitors. However, it is not uncommon for family members to violate these limits, extending their visits, and overloading the staff. The presence of cameras in these environments often deters people from over-staying their visit.

Searching video recordings to assess the quality of a patient’s hospital care

By integrating video surveillance with access control or other network-based patient tracking systems, video can be tagged with a patient ID and time marker for easy retrieval. If needed, it is then possible to quickly search through video footage to assess the quality of patient care or discover any irregularities.

Using cameras to generate extra services for the laboratory or hospital

Digital signage technology created for retail can also be used in hospitals. Through the use of gender and age video analytics, smart cameras can identify physical characteristics of the people in front of them. It is then possible to generate digital signage content tailored to the demographic of a waiting room.

For example, if camera analytics detect more children than elderly in the waiting room, digital signage may promote children’s vaccinations, children’s examinations or other complementary paediatric services. This type of targeted advertising can increase hospital revenue.

Improving communications

During surgery, interruptions and unnecessary entry in the operating room can increase surgical risks. So a two-way intercom is an efficient and sterile communication system between surgical teams inside the operating room and staff outside.

“Intercoms traditionally rely on analogue technology, but there are already IP intercoms, such as AXIS A8105-E. It’s Powered over Ethernet (PoE), which eliminates the need for additional cabling. The surgeon can also use a pedal to make a call without using their hands,” says Greeff.

Next month we’ll discuss technologies for paediatric care.


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