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Enhancing Perimeter Security at Healthcare Facilities: Balancing Safety and Customer Experience


Enhancing Perimeter Security in Healthcare Facilities - Balancing Safety and Customer Experience


Securing healthcare facilities is a complex challenge, given their open and welcoming nature. While these facilities must remain accessible to patients, visitors, and staff, they must also safeguard sensitive areas and protect against potential threats. Effective perimeter security plays a crucial role in achieving this balance. Integrating advanced technologies and thoughtful design can create a secure environment without compromising the customer experience. Below, we explore key strategies and technologies for defining and securing the perimeter of healthcare facilities.

Rethinking Perimeter Protection and Detection

Combining perimeter protection and detection technologies creates a multilayered defense strategy. This approach allows healthcare administrators to secure sensitive data, comply with regulatory requirements such as HIPAA, Joint Commission, and IAHSS standards, and prevent physical attacks. The goal is to implement a comprehensive set of measures that protect the physical boundaries of healthcare facilities while maintaining a positive customer experience.

Key Components of Perimeter Security

Fencing, Gates, and Bollards

Fencing and Gates: These physical barriers prevent unauthorized access to restricted areas, such as utility zones and medical gas storage. While effective, it is essential to design these barriers to blend with the facility's aesthetic, maintaining a welcoming atmosphere.

Bollards: Placed strategically around utilities and vulnerable points, bollards prevent vehicular access, enhancing protection against potential ramming attacks and contact with pedestrians. These should be sturdy yet unobtrusive, ensuring they do not hinder pedestrian movement.

Emergency Call Boxes

Emergency call boxes provide a direct line of communication in case of emergencies. These devices are crucial for areas where immediate access to help may not be readily available. Placing call boxes at regular intervals around the perimeter ensures that anyone in distress can quickly alert security personnel.

  • Emergency Communication: The primary purpose of emergency call boxes is to provide a means for individuals to call for help in case of an emergency, including accidents, medical emergencies, crimes, or any situation requiring immediate assistance.

  • Enhanced Safety and Security: By providing a direct line to emergency services, call boxes enhance safety and security in public areas, offering a reliable communication channel.

  • Quick Response Time: Strategically placed call boxes ensure quick access to emergency assistance, allowing for a rapid response when activated.

  • Visibility and Deterrence: The presence of emergency call boxes can deter potential criminals and reassure individuals of their safety, encouraging the use of public spaces without fear.

  • Strategic Placement: Call boxes should be placed along facility pathways, in parking garages, and parking lots for maximum accessibility.


Proper lighting is a fundamental aspect of perimeter security. Well-lit areas deter criminal activity and enhance the visibility of security personnel and surveillance cameras. Lighting should be designed to cover all critical areas, including entrances, parking lots, and pathways, without causing light pollution or discomfort to patients and staff.

Security Guards

The presence of security guards adds a human element to perimeter security. Guards can monitor activity, respond to incidents, and provide assistance to visitors, enhancing both safety and the overall experience. Their training should include customer service skills to ensure interactions are always positive and supportive.

Perimeter Detection Technologies


Surveillance cameras monitor and record activities around the perimeter. Modern cameras can also detect abnormal behavior, differentiating between malicious actions and confused visitors who may need assistance. This dual functionality enhances both security and visitor experience.

Access Control

Access control systems regulate who can enter restricted areas. These systems can include key cards, biometric scanners, and other advanced technologies to ensure only authorized personnel have access to sensitive zones.

Enhancing Visitor Experience While Deterring Criminals

Effective perimeter security does more than deter criminals; it also assists visitors and creates a sense of safety. Here are some ways to achieve this balance:

  • Clear Signage: Signage should direct visitors efficiently to their destinations while indicating restricted areas. Clear, visible signs reduce confusion and prevent accidental breaches of secure zones.

  • Visitor Management Systems: Implementing visitor management systems at entrances can streamline the check-in process, ensuring that only authorized individuals gain access to the facility. This enhances security without causing delays or frustration.

  • Friendly Security Personnel: Security guards and staff should be trained to approach visitors in a friendly and helpful manner. This not only ensures compliance with security protocols but also fosters a welcoming environment.

  • Integrated Technology: Technologies such as surveillance cameras, motion detectors, and access control systems should be integrated into a seamless security network. These systems should operate unobtrusively, maintaining a non-intrusive presence while providing robust security.

Meeting Regulatory Requirements

Compliance with regulatory standards is critical in healthcare security. Effective perimeter security helps facilities meet requirements set by HIPAA, the Joint Commission, and IAHSS. These measures protect patient data and ensure a safe environment for all facility users. Regular audits and updates to security protocols are essential to maintaining compliance and addressing emerging threats.

Parking Garages

Parking garages on healthcare campuses require proper security measures to ensure the safety of vehicles and individuals. These measures include:

  • Increased Surveillance: Cameras should cover all areas of the garage and stairwells to monitor activity and deter criminal behavior.

  • Emergency Call Boxes: These should be strategically placed throughout the garage to provide quick access to emergency assistance.

  • Access Control Systems: Limiting entry to authorized individuals at staff parking areas enhances security and reduces the risk of unauthorized access.

  • Security Guard Presence: Regular patrols by security personnel ensure a visible deterrent to potential threats.

  • Well-lit and Easily Navigable Pathways: Proper lighting and clear pathways enhance safety and ease of movement within the garage.

After-Hours Security

Limiting the number of free access points into the facility after hours is crucial. Use signage, communication, messaging boards, and intercom systems to ensure patients and visitors understand where they are supposed to go within the facility after hours. This reduces the risk of unauthorized access and enhances overall security.

Defining and securing the perimeter of healthcare facilities requires a balanced approach that integrates advanced security technologies with thoughtful design considerations. By focusing on both protection and the visitor experience, healthcare administrators can create safe, welcoming environments that deter potential threats and comply with regulatory standards. The key is to implement a multilayered defense strategy that combines physical barriers, surveillance, lighting, emergency communication, and trained security personnel to safeguard the facility effectively.


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Healthcare Security Guide cover - bookletLearn more about Healthcare Facility and Hospital Campus Security and Safety in our free guide

As a security manager or administrator in a healthcare facility, understanding and addressing your distinct security needs is paramount. This guide focuses on the critical aspects you must consider to protect your patients, staff, and visitors. By examining the unique challenges faced by healthcare operators, we provide a comprehensive overview of the strategies and technologies essential for a robust physical security program. It is crucial to ensure compliance with HIPAA, Joint Commission, and IAHSS guidelines and regulations to maintain a secure and accessible environment.

Recent trends highlight a significant increase in violence within healthcare settings. According to the IAHSS Healthcare Crime Survey, simple assault rates have been rising alarmingly. The data indicates that from 2012 to 2019, assault rates were approximately 10 incidents per 100 beds. However, in the past three years, this rate has more than doubled. This statistic underscores the urgent need for enhanced security measures in healthcare facilities.

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Healthcare Security Guide cover - booklet


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