New Tools for Monitoring Laboratories
Written by Courtney Dillon Pedersen   

Safety and security are two important concerns of a medical facility. With costs increasing for maintaining a safe, efficient and productive environment, a stronger model of protection should be on the minds of security, healthcare and lab personnel: considering hazardous or sensitive material for personnel and expensive equipment, protecting pharmaceutical and chemical supplies, safeguarding the integrity of research processes, standards and results, or shielding the classified nature of projects.

With network video technology, combining multiple capabilities provides a deeper monitoring service, giving managers new tools for more than just security. Labs and medical facilities can take full advantage of IP video management software (VMS) to reduce overhead costs and improve monitoring to protect valuable information and lives at stake in a research or healthcare environment. Optimizing operations or hygiene and safety procedures is easier with proper overview and video documentation of activities and results.

With IP video surveillance available today, laboratories can always keep watch over equipment, materials, animals, patients or staff – even remotely. The VMS can track with live (real-time) video or record the video for analysis, reports or exported evidence on the status, progress and results of lab activities during all hours - also monitoring or controlling persons entering and exiting facilities.

An open platform VMS solution provides more options to choose different hardware, such as advanced megapixel, HD, day/night, infrared or thermal cameras, and powerful data storage servers or other high tech offerings as they become available on the market. New levels of detail and clarity can significantly improve the research process and outcome.

An open platform solution also enables improved operations through a variety of inter-operable video analytics, or integration with personnel and access control systems to coordinate and manage employee work shifts, for example. Integrations with heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) or lighting systems can add value in laboratory environments, too. Imagine a growth culture experiment where a power failure or even just a heat lamp going on the blink could stop a project’s progress. IP video can be configured to send an alert, email or text to take action immediately.

Cancer Center expands monitoring

One of the world's premier cancer centers in America is using IP video surveillance as a tool to support their leading-edge research, educational programs, and exceptional patient care. The collaboration between scientists and physicians is one of their unique strengths for providing patients with the best care through more effective strategies to prevent, control, and ultimately cure cancer.

“Several years ago, we expanded our IT services to include environmental monitoring of temperature and humidity for floods and fire, using a network device that had a camera built into it. Our staff started using those cameras for other purposes, asking us to position the views so they could keep track of research experiments in progress. Word got around and more requests came in, so we started buying IP cameras that could be plugged right into the IT network,” relates the manager of technical services.

The surveillance was useful for keeping an eye on freezers and incubators, as well as entrances and exits after hours. Initially only live video streams were provided to the users, and they could move Pan-Tilt-Zoom (PTZ) cameras around for better views of their work areas, using pre-set positions configured in the software.

Eventually, someone requested more than just the live feed and still photo capabilities. Archiving of the images was desired for the ability to quickly search, find, analyze and produce monitoring results after the fact. The IT department found Milestone Systems, one of the first IP video surveillance software developers in the market at that time, now the world market leader according to numerous reports from IHS Inc./IMS Research.

The cancer institute’s employees working in research do not need IT access to the server, or to use their precious time and scientific expertise fiddling with computer systems. The IT department manages the Milestone solution centrally, adding new cameras to the network for users as requested. The scalability and flexibility of the system is optimal as a service.

Hot Lab coverage for emergency preparedness

A hospital in upstate New York got a grant from Homeland Security for Emergency Preparedness against bio-terrorism. The hospital has a cardiac and urology department that does radiation therapy with nuclear medications, in what is called a ‘Hot Lab'. They also opened a Cancer Center that has a Hot Lab with vaults that require careful monitoring for intrusion, theft and safety.

A hospital can implement both wired and wireless solutions depending on the location needs: just put up a wireless access point for a spot opportunity. There can be two-way audio and control with a camera: it simply plugs in and gets a wireless card in it. Users just log on to that camera recording on the system and it can easily be moved to another spot with another access point – it doesn't matter where it is on the network: as long as it is registered in the Milestone software, it will be recorded. The VMS can optimize performance on any hardware setup.

"It's a vulnerable population with many of our patients being elderly or psychiatric, and we have to protect them at the same time as their loved ones who visit - and our own personnel who come and go at all times of the day and night," says the executive vice president at the hospital. "The security challenges are complex, with many different kinds of patient care going on around the clock. The multiple buildings and locations only add to the tough requirements."

This institution manages over 200 beds, with 1,000 employees, students in training, and visiting families of patients. Almost 8,000 discharges per year are cared for, plus 150,000 out-patients including 23,000 who use the emergency room. Eight buildings cover about 400,000 square feet at its main campus, and four more locations handle physical therapy and warehousing of supplies.

"We have a combination of buildings that range from 80 to 200 years old, each designed with their own doors – there are many exits and entrances. Most of them are locked at night, but keeping track of all the complex activities throughout the entire campus is demanding. The pharmacy is very sensitive, where both access control and surveillance are absolutely required. Some areas of the hospital have very valuable assets that are worth a lot of money on the street: we have big investments in technology in the O.R., for example," says the executive vice president.

Increase efficiency, document results

It is clear that IP VMS surveillance can dramatically increase efficiency in medical settings by intelligently monitoring with real-time video and recording activities for review and analysis. Such applications have proven to be valuable and reliable when deployed in real-world settings. Motion detection can ensure that unauthorized persons do not enter restricted zones, and keep track of expensive lab equipment or supplies that may unexpectedly move or be missing. Integrating counter-directional video analytics can show if a person or object breaks preset actions or boundaries within an area.

There are endless possibilities when combining analytics or other integrations with an open platform IP video system such as Milestone XProtect. The open platform future-proofs the video surveillance and supports investment opportunities for improving the monitoring tools over time with hardware or other system integrations to stay in tune with the needs of research and medical facilities as technology advances.

For more information, visit: www.milestonesys.com


About the Author

Courtney Dillon Pedersen is the Communications Manager for Milestone Systems.
 

 
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