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​Photo by Hush Naidoo​​​​

Four Ways to Improve Healthcare Security

​Todd Milne, Security Director at University Health Network (UHN) in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, has 31 years of experience in the healthcare security industry.

 1. Anticipate challenges.

Healthcare security's main responsibilities involve the protection of people and assets, from responding to duress calls to preventing workplace violence. Using policies and procedures to maintain an inviting environment without compromising staff and visitor safety allows security to flag issues before they become emergencies. Other ways to anticipate challenges include investigating security matters promptly as well as providing internal consulting on issues like preparing  for incidents involving chemical, biological, radiological, nuclear, and explosive (CBRNE) materials.

2. Build community.

Community connections are critical to security improvement. For example, UHN has a close relationship with Toronto Police Services, allowing the two teams to share video related to criminal investigations. Security also has a strong link to the facility healthcare providers, mainly through ASIS International and the International Association for Healthcare Security and Safety (IAHSS). Security colleagues at nearby health centers provide key information on potential threats, which might include local individuals cited for trespassing, theft, or violent behavior. 

3. Embrace technology.

The UHN team embraces technology as a force multiplier. For example, the team is looking at mobile applications as a means of extending its security presence. For security staff in the field or in an emergency command center, it's a huge asset to be able to access and view cameras anywhere in the organization. Biometrics and facial recognition are technologies UHN is considering for the future. If security can identify a face coming through the door, and quickly flag someone in the system, that could help tailor an appropriate response.

4. Focus on fundamentals.

Security at UHN evolves by keeping the fundamentals of security operations top-of-mind. This includes a focus on human capital—security officers and dispatchers will always be needed onsite. This focus includes training and development programs, which are valued as necessary components for supporting human capital. A security management plan outlines current security practices, operational strengths, and areas that require improvement. The objective is to establish strategies that will enhance the level of service provided by the security operation through consistent methodologies.