Healthcare Security: What to Look for in a Security Integrator Partner

By Brent Balkcom, MPM, PSP, Security Control Systems, Inc.
Chris Vanderbles, Manager of Technical Services, Security Control Systems, Inc.

When it comes to security, you can’t put a price tag on a well-integrated system that meets your needs. In a healthcare setting, even more logistics must be taken into account, from maintaining a sterile environment to complying with HIPPA standards. So when it’s time to hire a security systems integrator for you next project, what should a healthcare or hospital security director look for?

1) Experienced, licensed integrators
A patient would not trust a first-year surgical intern to do brain surgery, just as a healthcare security director should not trust an inexperienced integrator to install a security system in a place as critical as a hospital environment. An experienced integrator knows that open communication must take place between the integrator, the IT department and the security department to ensure a successful installation of any system, whether it’s an enterprise level access control system or IP-based video system. Some states and jurisdictions also require a license for security integrators. Having an integrator who is versed in working with multiple departments will make the road to installation much smoother, while simultaneously creating a sense of trust within these departments. Having an integrator that understands every step of the process will make the installation process easier.

2) Prior, healthcare project experience
Installing an access control system or video surveillance system in a business office is much different from a security project in a hospital. On top of the typical need assessment, hospitals come with an added level of requirements. Integrators must have a strong understanding of HIPPA laws. A camera actively viewing a patient area must be secured and encrypted. In addition, certain areas where integrators could be working must be kept sterile with containment carts that rise to the celling and use positive pressure to filter out anything that might fall to keep the area dust free. On top of that, every hospital has its own permit process that lets them know where the integrator will be, what they’ll be doing, and for how long. Hiring an integrator who has not only knowledge of, but experience with juggling these different requirements will further ensure you are in safe hands.

3) Expect an onsite demo
Online demos can be altered. The only way to be confident that the system you and the integrator have agreed on will work as expected is to see it in action. A reputable integrator should set up multiple monitors, servers, cameras, demo panels, demo doors, and show you exactly how a specific system will work. A lot of companies talk big, but it’s another thing to deliver. If you were going to hire an electrical technician, the best way to test their abilities is to put a panel in front of them and ask them to wire it. The same is true with integrators.

The bottom line is, eventually you will have to take a leap of faith and choose an integrator. It’s important to keep in mind all that goes into choosing the right one, and to recognize that you get what you pay for. While you may need to go with the lower bid for some budgetary items, selecting an integrator should not be one of them.