Physical Security in Hospitals: Trends of 2020


By Devin Partida, Editor-in-Chief, ReHack.com

Physical security and safety have seen many changes in 2020. Due to the coronavirus pandemic, hospitals have had to adjust their protocols and practices, making sure they are secure places where the virus won’t spread.

The following trends show how far health care workers can go and have gone to make sure their facilities are safe:

1. Managing Visitors

Throughout the pandemic, closings and stay-at-home orders loosen and get stricter throughout the virus’s waves and spikes. During low points — and even during outbreaks, too — people want to see their loved ones, whether it’s a COVID-related visit or not.

Hospitals need to take the right precautions for having visitors. Anyone visiting the facility needs to answer questions about how they feel and if they’ve been exposed to the virus. They must also have their temperatures taken and practice social distancing the entire time.

The flow of people coming in and out of the hospital needs to work efficiently. Visitors are potentially new cases waiting to happen. With the right physical security precautions and adequate distancing, though, everyone can stay safe.

2. Following Trends and Guidance

Since the pandemic is new and researchers are still coming out with information about it throughout the months, hospitals must keep up. Keeping everyone in the facility physically safe means complying with what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the World Health Organization (WHO) say.

For instance, the CDC announced in October that the 15-minute exposure period for catching the virus could be in segments — three periods of 5-minute exposures. With awareness of these developments, hospital workers can better keep everyone at low-risk levels.

Following guidance also means meeting safety and health regulations. Practicing sanitation rules and changing supplies will be critical for cleanliness.

3. Making Safer Outdoor Spaces

A 2020 emerging hospital trend is to use outdoor space as a place for treatment and testing. These areas provide a better way to social distance outside while giving patients more access to health care.

Many of these sites have tall barriers for protection and offer separate places for parking. If necessary, the medical staff can have assistance from security officers or police for additional protection to keep the site as efficient as possible without crowds. Trained guards are critical for helping out, especially those who can perform CPR and basic life support.

Outdoor testing and treatment also emphasize the need for identifying people easily — through badges and IDs. Good communication leads to better physical safety.

4. Implementing Automation

Various tech systems have become popular throughout 2020 to assist patients and staff. Systems that use automation, specifically, have been shining through. When the pandemic first started in the United States, hospitals became flooded with calls and concerns while staff was assisting patients.

Automation, though, helped reduce that traffic by answering questions for people trying to contact hospitals. For instance, chatbots could automatically assess users through a series of questions and then guide them the next steps.

This step helped keep people at home or brought them in if they needed help. With automation taking the wheel, health care providers can focus on assisting patients in the moment. Having people stay at home also slows the spread of the virus, keeping more individuals safe.

5. Using Contact Tracing

The virus spreads easily, and hospitals need a way to track it just as easily. Contact tracing uses technology to trace who has been exposed to the coronavirus. Many apps now exist for individual states that can track if people come into contact with someone who has COVID-19.

Within the hospital, these apps will be invaluable as doctors and nurses come into contact with countless people every day. The patients and visitors, too, can use these apps to stay safe.

Other tech includes security systems that can track social distancing. If people get too close, it can send an alert to security guards and staff who will assess the situation. Of course, these surveillance systems will be helpful for keeping everyone safe from any intruders or threats as well.

Prioritizing Safety in Health Care

Physical safety manifests in different ways. Whether it’s trying to heal from the virus or avoid it, hospitals have had to adapt using the above five trends. These practices will likely stick around throughout 2021 as well — and until the virus passes.


Devin Partida is an industrial tech writer and the Editor-in-Chief of ReHack.com, a digital magazine for all things technology, big data, cryptocurrency and more. To read more from Devin, please check out the site.


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