New Locks for a New Home

4 Benefits Of Electronic Locks For Your Healthcare Facility

by Alfredo Griffin

If you own or operate a healthcare facility, security should be one of your primary concerns. In healthcare facilities, it's not just the doors that need to remain locked. Patient file storage cabinets, medication storage lockers, and medical carts are just some of the places where locks are required. You could require your employees to carry large keychains with multiple keys, but there are definitely benefits to upgrading to electronic locks instead. Electronic locks can allow you to increase security, save time, and keep better records of employee access. Take a look at some of the benefits of installing electronic locks in your healthcare facility.

Reduce Drug Diversion

As shown by studies of large medical institutions like the Mayo Clinic facilities, drug diversion – in other words, the theft of prescription drugs in healthcare workplaces – is a large and growing problem. Though exact statistics are hard to pin down, it's clear that drug diversion by employees in the healthcare field is something that owners and operators of healthcare facilities should take very seriously.

Outfitting drug storage lockers with electronic locks won't solve the problem by itself, but it does add an extra measure of security that can reduce the incidence of drug diversion. Electronic locks that use biometrics or unique codes for each employee can provide a record of who accessed the drug storage lockers and when they did so, which can help you account for missing or diverted drugs. It also reduces the chances of keys being stolen or copied by someone who shouldn't be authorized to access drugs in the facility.

Improve Patient Privacy

Under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), you have an obligation to maintain the privacy of your patients, and part of that includes keeping patient files secure. While much of the focus on securing patient files centers around digital security, not all files are digitized, and many facilities keep hard copies of patient files as backups even if they are digitized.

If your facility stores hard copies of patient files on site, it's just as important to keep those copies secure as it is to keep digital copies secure. If hard copies of patient files are stolen or accessed by an unauthorized person, you can be held liable for the security breach. Electronic locks are more secure than keys and more easily changed or updated after employees are terminated or quit working for your facility. Upgrading locks on patient files to an electronic system can help prevent breaches of your patients' privacy and help keep your facility in compliance with HIPAA.

Save Time in an Emergency

Mobile medical carts that contain life-saving equipment and drugs must be kept locked for patient and employee safety, but they also need to be able to be accessed quickly. In a medical emergency, every second counts. When a nurse has to leave her patient to go get keys to access a nearby mobile cart, some of those precious seconds are lost.

Electronic locks that can be quickly opened with a code or with biometric technology can allow faster access to life-saving medications and medical equipment when that time counts the most. And because mobile carts, like medication storage lockers, also contain meds that are at risk for diversion, electronic locks can also increase their security.

Prevent Patient Elopement

In residential facilities, like nursing homes or memory care facilities, patient elopement is a serious concern. Patients suffering from dementia or other similar conditions are often prone to wandering, and can easily become lost or injured when they do so. Ensuring that doors are securely locked is vital to ensuring patient safety.

A door with an electronic lock that locks automatically when closed can't be left unlocked for convenience by a staff member, and there won't be keys that could be picked up by a patient if left unattended. If patient elopement is a concern for your facility, electronic locks are one way to prevent this type of wandering from occurring.

A commercial locksmith can evaluate the locks in your healthcare facility and make recommendations for upgrades that will make your healthcare facility safer and more secure. Contact a commercial locksmith in your area to find out how you can improve your patients' security with electronic locks.