21st Century Hospital, 21st Century Risk; Tablet theft, Use And Security In Modern Medicine
With the volume of medical care needed in today’s hospitals and the limited staff of nurses and doctors available to provide it there is precious little time to waste. Patients need treatment and medical professionals need access to that patient’s information, records and history fast. Modern technology has made this a reality with powerful WIFI and the introduction of iPad and tablets to replace the old handwritten patient charts and massive physical files. Modern technology though is a double edged sword. Data, iPad and, tablet theft have become issues that plague hospital administration, medical staff and security alike.
What can be done? In my life as a retail LP professional the solution to merchandise theft is merchandise protection devices. Items like Checkpoint Classic N10 paired with an Alpha Thunder Tag are used as part of an overall strategy to prevent losses. I’ll wager that it isn’t often that you hear of areas where retail and healthcare overlap but this is one.
I worked security in a large hospital for several years dealing with a host of issues, things I never would have imagined. Violent patients and disruptive visitors were a primary concern for our public safety department. The physical security and safety of a facility are vital to its operation but aren’t its only concerns. Sadly, theft was a fairly common occurrence. Visitors, patients and, staff stealing from the facility are realities. I learned people are opportunists and an environment with valuable goods and information paired with a supply of distracted victims unable to protect themselves is too tempting to pass up.
Tablet technology has improved the speed and accuracy of patient care with the added benefit of making HIPAA compliance easier. Security often deals with a “curious” visitors caught snooping at patient’s charts. Patient data is now stored securely, safe from prying eyes and protected from data thieves who would remotely hack these devices.
Physical tablet theft remains a major concern. On the surface it seems unlikely that a device which is carried by staff would be susceptible to being stolen but, it happens. Watching your iPad is not a priority when the alert is raised and a patient is coding. It is in those moments that the opportunists strike. A few seconds of shifted focus and that tablet ends up in a purse or backpack. Not only does that represent a financial loss to the facility but also a massive HIPAA issue as well. Beyond the hospitals exposure is the loss of the patient’s personal information.
Given the nature of the hospital setting it isn’t practical to anchor every device to a person or secure it to an apparatus. Here the medical field can take a lesson from retail and look for a more elegant and portable solution. Companies like Alpha have developed small security tags, like the Alpha Thunder tag, that attach to a tablet or iPad and do not interfere with its portability or use. These sensors work with EAS devices like Classic N10 to provide both a deterrent for would be thieves as well as a means to notify staff and security if someone tries to exit with a secured device.
ablet theft will remain an issue so long as staff use them and thieves see hospitals and the technology in them as a viable revenue source. The benefits to patient care and service outweigh the risks so the task of protecting these devices falls to security professionals. With vigilance and the implementation of sound security strategies, like an Alpha Thunder Tag and Checkpoint Systems Classic N10 we can allow staff to focus on patient care and give security a chance to prevent these losses. In the end everyone can win, well except the bad guys of course.
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