Magazine Article | June 18, 2013

What To Know About Selling IP Video Surveillance In Healthcare

By The Business Solutions Network

Healthcare practices of all sizes and types are looking for video surveillance solutions to solve their business challenges.

The channel’s hesitation to sell IP video surveillance hasn’t been entirely unwarranted. For the better part of the past three decades, the video surveillance market has largely remained static due in part to commoditization and little technological innovation. Despite its history, the physical security market is primed for a rebirth. In fact, according to research conducted by Homeland Security Research, global intelligent video surveillance (IVS) and video analytics (VA) industry revenues totaled $13.5 billion in 2012 and are estimated to reach $39 billion in 2020. The study goes on to attribute the increased use of video surveillance and the migration from analog to digital cameras as two top drivers behind this trend.

I reached out to Tim Palmquist, VP Americas, Milestone Systems, and Jimmy Palatsoukas, senior manager of product marketing, Genetec, recently to get their feedback on how they see this trend impacting the healthcare market, which has become one of the hottest vertical markets among Business Solutions’ audience. Check out what these two video surveillance experts had to share regarding the key starting points VARs need to understand when selling IP video surveillance solutions in healthcare.

Which types of healthcare facilities are most likely to purchase IP video surveillance solutions?

Palmquist: We’re seeing video surveillance solutions being installed in hospitals, medical clinics, nursing homes, and research laboratories.

Palatsoukas: Traditionally, the most likely type of healthcare organization to purchase an IP system would be either a large hospital, research institution, or a healthcare group managing one or multiple facilities. Psychiatric hospitals, major hospitals, and medical schools were also very likely to adopt IP solutions. Increasingly, however, we are seeing smaller healthcare facilities, pharmacies, and nursing homes purchasing IP-based security systems.

Who’s the typical decision maker when purchasing video surveillance solutions in healthcare?

Palmquist: The decision maker is usually a CSO (chief security officer), a CIO (chief information officer), or it could be a shared responsibility between the two executives. Not all customers have a CSO, of course, so whoever is making the security decision will work with the IT department to install an IP-networked solution.

Palatsoukas: In our experience, the decision maker is typically the police chief/security director, IT director, or someone within the IT department responsible for security systems. Other possible decision makers include facilities directors (e.g. in hospitals), a legal or risk management department, and in some cases, multiple parties from the above list could be stakeholders in a security project.

What is the budget cycle and/or the best time to sell this type of solution to these practices?

Palatsoukas: This usually follows the facility’s specific fiscal year and can range from September to January when a new budget year is started. Healthcare organizations may operate on a 12- or 18-month budget cycle. They typically have to budget capital expenses months in advance to be approved in the next budget review.

What are the common challenges facing this market that video surveillance can help solve?

Palmquist: Budget cuts have meant reduced personnel for many healthcare organizations. Surveillance helps keep an eye on patients, providing alerts when safety issues are detected, such as Alzheimer’s patients wandering outside designated areas or elderly patients who suffer falls. Also, for security reasons, there is often a need to manage pharmaceuticals, medical supplies, and equipment. In cancer clinics, for example, clinicians may use nuclear medications as part of radiation therapy, which need to be kept under close surveillance for safety and security measures. In maternity wards, baby abductions are a serious threat that IP video surveillance can be used to thwart. In general, the health sector has to deal with lots of people coming and going from multiple access points at all times of day and night, including shift workers, patients, visitors, medics, and delivery personnel. This high-traffic, complex business environment can always benefit from video management.

What is a regulation unique to healthcare that video surveillance resellers need to be aware of?

Palatsoukas: Protecting patient privacy within the requirements of HIPAA needs to be a top priority for VARs who want to sell video surveillance solutions to this market.

Palmquist: In addition to being mindful of where cameras are installed, VARs may need to deploy masking solutions with their video cameras, which allow them to block part of the camera’s view (e.g. in bathrooms) and/or to determine at which times a video camera may be activated or turned off in order to comply with privacy requirements.

What are some unique applications for cameras in the healthcare vertical?

Palatsoukas: More often, end users are looking at integrating multiple systems within a single-user interface or application. One interesting application in healthcare is the integration of a video platform with a monitoring system, where cameras would be triggered and displayed if an external alarm is triggered (e.g. a patient with Alzheimer’s wanders off, or an infant is abducted). These types of integrations offer healthcare end users a more complete view of their systems and facilities and arm them with timely video information when they are assessing incidents. Other unique applications include sleep-lab evaluations and surgical procedures monitoring where IP video can add significant value.

Palmquist: The most interesting implementations are not only from the cameras, but from integrations of video management systems, as described earlier, which can be used with other systems.

2 VMS Pitfalls To Avoid

Systems integrators have a lot of choices when it comes to selecting VMS (video management software) to bundle with their IP video cameras. To reduce the chances of making a poor buying decision, Jimmy Palatsoukas, senior manager of product marketing at Genetec, warns against making the following common mistakes:

  1. Choosing a proprietary solution. “Even though this may meet your customer’s short-term needs, it will inevitably prove to be too limiting and expensive in the long run,” he says. If, for example, your customer decides to expand their system and integrate capabilities such as access control, LDAP [Lightweight Directory Access Protocol], or Active Directory, this will become a far more painful proposition than if they used an open VMS from the start.”
  2. Failing to configure your IP cameras. “As customers look to take advantage of megapixel cameras in their deployments, integrators need to take into account the impact on storage and bandwidth,” he says. “While the allure of higher quality video is compelling, integrators and end users must also consider the back-end system costs required to maintain and manage higher volumes of data over the network. To that end, it is critical that the selected VMS be capable of alleviating this burden by optimizing video streams from camera to client, and configuring the quality of streams for the intended usage, such as live viewing or recordings.” By spending a little more time configuring the system, customers can take advantage of the latest high-resolution cameras, while greatly benefiting from a reduction in network traffic and optimizing the storage space that is used.