For healthcare organizations and other companies that follow HIPAA regulations, protecting Personal Health Information (PHI) from unauthorized access is a major concern. In this era of smart devices and interconnectivity, there are many ways to secure PHI—and this means that a higher degree of vigilance is expected.
While many organizations use basic video surveillance for physical security, modern solutions like smart security cameras can take it a step further. Smart security cameras can be a powerful tool for protecting PHI according to HIPAA guidelines, especially when combined with integrated access control.
In this article, we’ll cover how you can protect PHI by using smart security cameras with integrated access control to:
For background on using security cameras to enhance HIPAA compliance, check out HIPAA Compliance and Video Security – What You Need to Know.
When it comes to protecting PHI, the primary guidelines you’ll be following are the HIPAA Security Rule and HIPAA Privacy Rule. Together, they lay out the standards that organizations must follow to protect sensitive patient information.
“The Security Rule requires appropriate administrative, physical and technical safeguards to ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and security of electronic protected health information.” - HHS.gov
These ‘physical safeguards’ that the Security Rule describes have two main goals:
Video surveillance and access control help organizations accomplish these goals and thus comply with the Security Rule.
Security footage creates a reliable documented trail of who had physical access to PHI and when. When integrated with an access control system, your organization receives automatically generated video clips of all access events. This creates a video record of whenever an individual enters an area that provides access to sensitive information complete with badge details.
This also provides an easy way for organizations to not just record entry activity, but investigate it as well. Integrated smart camera systems automatically mark all entry activity (authorized, unauthorized, and tailgating) within the video player, making it easy to review PHI access events. Investigations and audits become simpler and require less labor; with automatically categorized activity and AI-powered search filters, you can easily find the footage you’re looking for.
Access control systems are designed to automatically monitor, verify, and control access to restricted areas. In healthcare settings, this helps protect patients, employees, and sensitive patient information—making it a great tool to help comply with HIPAA Security Rule regulations.
However, access control systems have their limitations. Companies can greatly improve their access control—and their ability to meet regulations—by integrating it with smart security cameras. With 24/7 footage and AI analytic features, integrated smart cameras can help access control systems automatically verify badge credentials, prevent unauthorized access, and prevent tailgating.
When there's unexpected or suspicious entry activity at your facility, receive automatic alerts with video clips and badge details.
Many hospitals and other healthcare facilities use smart access control systems to manage employee badges and control individuals’ access to secure areas. This both improves hospital security and helps protect access to restricted areas that contain Personal Health Information, but has some shortcomings when used alone.
Badge-based access control greatly improves security, but staff badges can be lost, misplaced, or stolen. Badges can be deactivated, but there’s a time gap between when a badge goes missing and when it’s reported as missing.
This can create security risks. Without an integrated video security system, access control systems can only verify the badge itself—they can’t check to make sure that the correct person is using the badge.
In other words, if Person A uses Person B’s badge to enter a secure location, there’s no way to tell. This creates two problems:
Using smart security cameras can go a long way to preventing these issues with badge-based entry—especially when they integrate with your access control system.
In fact, integrated smart cameras can protect your organization from stolen badges before you know they’re missing. The integrated system monitors for issues 24/7, and by leveraging facial recognition technology, it can automatically issue alerts when there’s a discrepancy whether or not a missing badge has been reported.
Once the smart camera + access control integration is set up, the systems will automatically monitor your entry points. When a person uses a badge or credential to enter, both systems will work seamlessy together.
The access control system verifies if the credential is from an authorized or unauthorized user.
The more effectively you can verify and enforce proper access control, the better you can protect PHI and meet HIPAA guidelines.
Tailgating can pose a serious security threat to healthcare facilities. Tailgaters can gain unauthorized access to restricted locations and equipment, putting PHI and patient safety at risk.
Due to the nature of tailgating, most credential-based access control systems can’t adequately address it alone. However, a smart video security system + integrated access control can provide additional protection against it.
Smart video surveillance platforms can use AI analytics to automatically identify tailgating. Smart cameras can identify ‘human movement’ and recognize if multiple people enter an access point with just one badge entry.
You can set up custom alerts for when tailgating occurs. These alerts contain all badge information and corresponding video footage so that the person reviewing the events—such as a security guard—can make an educated decision on how to respond.
This puts control over tailgating in your hands with a minimal amount of work. Because monitoring and alerts happen automatically, you gain additional protection from tailgating without spending excess time and labor on it.
There are many ways to protect Personal Health Information in a way that complies with HIPAA regulations, and most healthcare organizations use many different protocols and systems to ensure compliance.
Separately, video security and access control systems both aid HIPAA compliance. But when combined in an integrated solution, these systems truly shine and provide a thorough and seamless layer of protection.
Many HIPAA-compliant organizations wonder how video surveillance fits into their security solution. Security cameras help hospitals, pharmacies, clinics, labs, rehab centers, and other healthcare organizations secure their facilities and protect patients and employees. However, it’s crucial to maintain HIPAA compliance to protect Personal Health Information (PHI) while using a video security solution. In this article, you’ll learn how to use security cameras in a HIPAA-compliant way, and how you can use video surveillance to strengthen overall HIPAA compliance throughout your entire organization.
In a healthcare environment, you need security solutions you can rely on long-term. That's why many hospitals, pharmacies, clinics, labs, rehab centers, and other healthcare facilities are future-proofing their video surveillance systems by moving to the cloud. With cloud video security, you can modernize and future-proof safety by automatically keeping cybersecurity up to date, supporting flexibility and growth with an integration-friendly platform, and by unifying physical security to save time and resources on a daily basis.
In 2020, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced $175 billion in relief funds, including to hospitals and other healthcare providers, as part of the CARES Act. For organizations that have received this funding, investing in a new video security solution not only enhances your response to COVID-19 but also improves your overall security for years to come.