Kevin Tart

In a world where technology is universal, video surveillance has a profound impact on the operations of our healthcare systems. 

Many healthcare institutions (like long-term care facilities) rely on the flexible capabilities of their video management software (VMS) to keep both their patients and staff safe and secure. VMS assists nursing homes and long-term care providers by offering smart video solutions that help nurses support their patients better. 

VMS is being used in a variety of ways by healthcare institutions, and many of these technologies are already in place at nursing homes around the country.  

For example, a common problem among the elderly is the probability of falling when no one is around to see or hear them. With in-room cameras connected to centralized monitoring and through artificial intelligence (AI) analytics, nurses can be notified immediately after a resident alarm is triggered, ensuring that the person doesn’t stay on the floor for long. 

AI analytics and central monitoring can also detect pre-fall conditions to reduce the chances that a person will fall in the first place. For example, if a resident has kicked off their blanket from the bed, drops a crutch or knocks over a walker, AI video analytics can send a notification to nurses that this has occurred. 

In addition, AI analytics can detect various types of fall risks, including cords, wires and phone chargers, to name a few. Analytics send an alarm at the moment the risk presents itself, so staff can intervene before a fall happens. 

VMS, together with video analytics and sound sensors, can also indicate other types of anomalies. For example, sound sensors can be used to detect glass breaking. Many residents have flowers in their rooms, and sometimes vases get knocked over. When the glass hits the floor and breaks, the sound sensor in the room will pick this up and send a notification to nurses, potentially saving a person from serious injury or even death.

Very similarly, AI analytics are also used with bed and wheelchair alarms. When a resident gets out of bed or tries to rise from their wheelchair, the analytics pick this up, and an alarm is triggered. 

Additionally, VMS can track the residents’ whereabouts from one room to the next. This allows nurses to easily keep an eye on those with a propensity to wander. Residents are given radio frequency (RFID) tags or bracelets that emit a signal which the VMS picks up. A map of the facility shows where a particular resident is at any given time with a little dot. Nurses are then able to access cameras to verify the resident’s whereabouts.

All VMS can be programmed with facial redaction or privacy-masking to blur out residents and protect their identity. This is to ensure that people’s privacy is respected while they are being monitored around the clock. Only a system administrator can lift the privacy feature, ensuring that privacy is always maintained. 

Nursing home staff occasionally come under fire for potentially abusing or stealing from residents. By archiving all video recordings for months at a time, especially the activities recorded from resident in-room cameras, providers can mitigate legal risks. This is an essential feature of VMS together with on-premise storage; it allows for archiving and fast and accurate searching of hundreds of hours of video recordings. This can exonerate nurses and staff in cases where accusations are made.

VMS also assists long-term care facilities in monitoring how medications are handled. For example, in the drug room, AI video analytics are used to ensure nurses and other staff don’t pilfer prescription drugs, including end-of-life drugs. A camera recognizes when an approved person approaches a medicine cabinet and grants them access with control features such as a key card or an app in their phone, while non-approved people remain locked out. 

Overall, VMS provides powerful security solutions for providers’ basic yet vital daily monitoring. In long-term care facilities, VMS is a powerful tool to not only aid nurses but also ensure the safety and well-being of residents. 

The examples discussed here are only a few of the ways the healthcare industry can tout the capabilities of video. In the past, video surveillance was used to simply record evidence or act as a theft deterrent. Today, innovations in video technology are proving an important ally for long-term care providers in their day-to-day responsibilities. 

Kevin Tart is the Key Account Manager and the Healthcare Specialist at Milestone Systems. He has extensive experience with over 38 years in the security industry. Kevin’s out of the box thinking and solution creativity make him a valuable asset to Milestone and his customers alike.  

The opinions expressed in McKnight’s Long-Term Care News guest submissions are the author’s and are not necessarily those of McKnight’s Long-Term Care News or its editors.