Technological advancements such as video analytics are driving a plethora of new use cases in the healthcare sector ensuring better security, service levels and business performance. Ritesh Deokar, country manager, Milestone Systems India explains how
Open platform Video Management Software (VMS) is revolutionising how the healthcare industry uses video technology solutions. By integrating new capabilities such as face and motion detection, access control, GPS, smoke and fire detection, thermal imaging and advanced analytics into traditional video solutions, it has now thrown up several interesting use cases in healthcare. An open platform VMS can support a variety of hardware such as cameras, encoders and decoders from multiple vendors, to offer the ability for customised integration with almost any other system or devices using an open platform software development kit.
Enabling tighter security
Hospitals and healthcare facilities are often high-footfall areas with a steady stream of incoming patients, visitors and staff, and it is difficult to keep track of the number of people in the premises at any given point in time. Video analytics with its advanced headcount features helps hospital authorities keep track of the number and locations of individuals to aid emergency evacuation or people management.
According to a study by Indian Medical Association (IMA), 75 per cent of doctors in India have faced violence at some point of time in their life. This violence is either in the form of verbal abuse or even worse, physical aggression.
This is where an open VMS can provide another level of monitoring to help determine when medical staff need security assistance and can provide a strong deterrence to violence. When social distancing is made mandatory, the same open VMS can pair with video analytics to develop a centralised virtual care system for patients.
“We can’t cover all of these facilities with security staff, we need to augment heavily with very good, state-of-the-art technology that allows us to combine our intelligence, labour, policies and procedures, in order to create a better holistic approach to enterprise risk management,” said Bonnie Michelman, Massachusetts General Hospital Director of Police, Security and Outside Services.
Perimeter security is just one of the many ways in which VMS is boosting the healthcare industry. Other use cases abound, including tracking of abandoned objects, loud sound detection, smoke and fire detection, sabotage detection, face detection, suspect search and personnel monitoring.
Video can also be paired with artificial intelligence (AI) to detect objects in video, identify and classify them and index them as metadata. The metadata can then be used as actionable intelligence to achieve enhanced service levels.
For instance, hospitals could use the metadata collected over a long period to create activity heatmaps for understanding visitor and patient traffic within the facility. This will help them understand navigational trends and ensure pathways to emergency treatment always remain clear of obstacles, something crucial to India’s currently overwhelmed hospitals.
Where hospitals in most cities are inundated by the constant movement of ambulances carrying COVID-19 patients, congestion in pathways to emergency treatment facilities could prove fatal and such technology additions that can aid in removing impediments to speedy access could potentially save lives.
Enhancements to healthcare in the current pandemic
Thermal imaging cameras are also proving to be great assets in the current pandemic. Thermal imaging helps visualise temperature differences from a safe distance, identifying those who may have been infected. An integrated system raises an alarm when a higher than normal temperature is detected, and the individual can be further screened for spot testing to ensure more accurate readings.
Measuring temperature manually with hand-held devices is a time-consuming and labour-intensive process. Thermal imaging cameras are not only a non-invasive and safer alternative to hand-held temperature scanners, but also require less manpower and time to execute.
VMS can also help enhance service levels in patient care. For example, Nemours Children’s Hospital in the US uses video to monitor patient rooms to ensure that there are available nurses and clinical staff in the room. Other integrations also enable the system to announce themselves via audio when they are monitoring a room, giving them the ability to assist remotely and call other rapid response teams if needed.
“We’ve received such great feedback from parents and our staff about how helpful the video is. Parents feel more confident in leaving their child in our care because they know that we’re monitoring everything very closely,” says Ansley Hodges, Lead Behavior Analyst, Nemours Hospital.
This also applies to elderly patients in home care situations, who are especially vulnerable to falling, and in the absence of nursing staff in their proximity, due to manpower shortages, such incidents could also prove fatal. With the right analytics, it can also tell if a patient is lying on the floor due to a fall. When detected, the system can raise an alarm in real time, ensuring that help is available immediately.
Medicine handling in hospitals is another sensitive task. As only authorised personnel can access pharmacy vaults, this can become a weak link in security without proper tracking. VMS can incorporate technologies such as facial recognition, along with access management to enable stronger security protocols without encumbering authorised staff.
The future is an open platform VMS and not just IP video
IP video cameras connect to the internet but have limited capabilities themselves to provide additional features. They are often riddled with proprietary systems, making them unable to communicate with hardware manufactured by other vendors. Today’s video management system enables interoperability of systems and integration of diverse applications and is now an essential requirement in ensuring operational efficiency globally and a must-have for building on current business architecture.
What we see now is just the tip of the iceberg. As we learn how to leverage the power of the open platform, and as the integration with myriad new technologies become more widespread, the full potential of these applications will be fully unleashed.