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  • Eric Brackett

Medical Security: The Critical Role of Hospital Access Control


Healthcare access control system blog promotional image BTI.

In the healthcare industry, the safety and security of patient information and physical spaces are crucial. Healthcare professionals and facility managers grapple daily with the dual challenge of protecting sensitive data and ensuring the safety of their premises.


The treasure trove of personal information and the presence of valuable assets within these facilities make the healthcare industry one of the primary targets. But do not worry, there are ways to keep your valuable data, patients, caregivers, and visitors secure.


Hospital access control systems are a robust solution designed to resolve these security pain points efficiently, ensuring that healthcare institutions can focus on what they do best—saving lives and promoting health.


What is Access Control?

At its core, an access control solution is a system that manages entry to physical and digital spaces. In healthcare settings, this translates to controlling who can access certain areas within a hospital or who can view and use patient information stored electronically.


Hospital access control ensures that only authorized personnel has access to sensitive areas and information, effectively minimizing the risks of unauthorized access and potential security and data breaches.


Types of Access Control in Hospitals

There are multiple types of healthcare access control systems, each with their unique applications in the medical field.


These include:


  • Physical Access Control

  • Logical Access Control

  • Role-Based Access Control

  • Mandatory Access Control

  • Attribute-Based Access Control


Physical Access Control

Physical access control systems restrict entry to physical spaces within a healthcare facility, safeguarding areas that store sensitive information or assets. Hospital access control systems are often seen at entry points to patient records rooms, medication storage areas, and equipment rooms.


Logical Access Control 

Focusing on digital barriers, logical access control regulates who can access electronic healthcare systems and data. Common methods include authentication techniques like usernames, passwords, and multi-factor authentication (MFA).


MFA in healthcare access control systems concept art.

A prevalent model used is Role-Based Access Control (RBAC), which assigns specific permissions to users based on their job roles within the healthcare organization.


Role-Based Access Control (RBAC)

RBAC is particularly beneficial in large healthcare settings where each team member's access needs vary drastically. This model allows for the granular assignment of access rights, ensuring that individuals can only access information or areas relevant to their roles, thereby enhancing the security structure of the entity.


Mandatory Access Control (MAC) and Discretionary Access Control (DAC)

While MAC uses predefined security policies to dictate access based on classification levels of data and users, DAC places the power in the hands of the data owners to set permissions.


MAC’s stringent control is suitable for high-security areas, whereas DAC’s flexibility can aid in collaborative environments but requires meticulous management to mitigate risks.


Attribute-Based Access Control (ABAC)

ABAC stands out for its dynamic nature, considering multiple attributes (e.g., user role, location, time) to grant access permissions. This fluidity makes ABAC ideal for healthcare settings where access requirements can significantly vary based on context, such as granting a specialist temporary access during a specific consultation period.


The Benefits of Hospital Access Control


Increased Data & Patient Record Security

With stringent healthcare regulations such as HIPPA, The Joint Commission, and Environment of Care hospitals and healthcare centers must employ proven and reliable methods to safeguard data.


Hospital access control systems provide a robust solution, helping these entities fulfill their legal and ethical obligations to patients by preventing unauthorized access to sensitive information.


Improved Physical Security Measures

Beyond data, the physical security of facilities is crucial. Healthcare access control systems enforce restricted access to drug storage, equipment rooms, and sensitive areas like ICUs and maternity wards, thereby enhancing overall security.


In addition, these systems can be integrated with alarms and locking mechanisms to reduce theft and unauthorized entry risks effectively while creating a streamlined and secure security system that protects visitors, caregivers, and staff alike.


Increased Efficiency

Access control systems contribute significantly to operational efficiency by managing room occupancy and availability. These systems streamline resource allocation and scheduling, ensuring that hospital spaces are utilized optimally.


Integration with electronic health records and scheduling software further boosts productivity, allowing for seamless patient flow and room turnover.


Hospital Access Control Applications in Real Healthcare Scenarios


Prohibited Substance Management  

Did you know that 70% of medication tampering, fraud, and theft occurs in hospitals? (Food and Drug Administration). With thousands of employees, visitors, and caregivers visiting healthcare facilities daily, keeping track of substances can be difficult.  


Access control solutions boost your substance and visitor security by digitally controlling and monitoring access to restricted areas and resources, allowing you to reduce the likelihood of theft, misuse, or misplacement of controlled substances.


Meeting Security & Compliance Standards

In the healthcare industry, meeting industry compliance requirements is critical to achieving success. Staying compliant with regulations like HIPPA, Environment of Care, and The Joint Commission is not easy task, but hospital access control systems can release the release some of the pressure of meeting compliance by automating task and protecting your most valuable assets.  


For example, our healthcare clients not only take advantage of access control to protect and monitor who enters their premises. Our clients leverage healthcare access control systems and security system integration to maintain PHI (Patient Health Information) safety and allow only authorized personnel to see sensitive information based on their specific permissions and credentials.


Fighting Cybercrime

According to a recent IBM study, the healthcare industry is one of the industries targeted by hackers worldwide.


Distribution of cyberattacks across worldwide industries.
Image by Statista.


Data such as employee credentials, employee records, and medical data is one of the most profitable pieces of information on the market, allowing bad actors to make not thousands but millions of dollars by collecting ransoms or selling the information on the dark web.  

 

To fight cybercrime, hospital access control technologies come equipped with advanced security mechanisms such as advanced encryption, authentication technologies, and encrypted access cards.


Running Audit Trails

Implementing access control systems in hospitals and medical facilities offers a straightforward way to secure sensitive areas and quickly spot any unusual or unauthorized actions, whether they originate from internal or external sources.


When integrated with other solutions such as video surveillance, hospital access control solutions can leverage both video surveillance and access control to get detailed reports of the systems logs supported by video footage.


This means that if someone swipes their card in any restricted area you will be able to see who swiped the card while receiving visual confirmation from your security cameras to ensure the credentials match with the camera footage and easily identify any breaching attempts by outsiders or scammers.


Conclusion 

Hospital access control systems are not a luxury, but a necessity if you want to succeed in the healthcare landscape and comply with the medical industry regulations. 


 The multifaceted approach to security and efficiency provided by healthcare access control systems can significantly mitigate security risks, ensuring the safety of patient information, your premises, visitors, and staff. 


The evolution of access control technology promises even greater capabilities, heralding a future where healthcare security is more robust, responsive, and aligned with the vital mission of health institutions worldwide. 


Here at BTI we have more than 35+ years of experience helping healthcare professionals protect their premises, patients, and sensitive information through leading-edge healthcare security systems and solutions.


If you are looking for a trustworthy partner that can help you maintain world-class security within your healthcare organization, you are in the right place. Contact us today to schedule a free business assessment!  


 

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