ISJ Exclusive: Intelligent VMS in healthcare


Share this content


Neil Killick, EMEA Sales Director, Developed Markets, Milestone Systems describes how smart video technology is helping nursing facilities provide a safe, responsive care environment.

Smart video technology is having a profound, global impact on healthcare operations. Beyond hospitals and large medical facilities, many care institutions including long term care and nursing facilities, now rely on the flexible capabilities of their video systems to keep patients and staff safe and secure.

Today’s video management systems (VMS) assist long term care providers by offering intelligent video solutions to help nurses better support patients and manage their workload, without increasing staff.

Video management is being used in a variety of ways in healthcare. Developments in security and surveillance solutions based on flexible video management software are helping hospitals and healthcare facilities protect people and property, provide situational awareness and enhance operations. Advantages of an open platform IP video surveillance system include adding visual situational awareness and alerts to improve response times in emergencies and easily share video information with first responders.

Flexible, open architecture VMS platforms also make it much easier to integrate with other security or business elements, like access control systems, lighting and perimeter gates and doors. Since many IP network cameras have digital outputs, the VMS can be used to program cameras to activate switches upon alarm signals to close, lock or open doors, turn lights on or off, set-off alarms or other actions.

The benefits of an open VMS extend beyond security-related integrations and play a key role in staff shift monitoring, building control and management systems, traffic management systems, business intelligence analytics and complying with regulations for hygiene, fire and environmental issues. Video monitoring is also very useful for operational efficiencies in managing deliveries, cleaning services, safe food preparation and personnel training.

A long term care approach

Video surveillance technologies are now being adapted in nursing homes and long term care facilities in many specific and unique ways.

Cameras are often installed in resident rooms to help nurses quickly respond to emergencies and gain situational awareness. For example, a common problem among the elderly is the probability that they may fall when no one is around to see or hear them. With in-room cameras connected to centralised monitoring and through smart analytics, nurses can be notified immediately after a resident alarm is triggered, ensuring that the person is quickly and appropriately assisted.

Research shows that although nothing is more accurate than a trained human eye, a human observer’s effectiveness degrades quickly after short periods of time. Software, on the other hand, never tires. Software is always watching, always analysing and always ready to sound an alarm or send an alert.

Some solutions integrate multiple video analytics systems (both server and camera-based) under a single, easy-to-use interface to correlate alerts from different systems, to reduce false alerts and provide the best intelligence of a potential incident.

Intelligent video for smart care

Smart video analytics have significantly advanced over the past few years, improving the ability to deliver real time intelligence. Video analytics, together with central monitoring, can help staff detect pre-fall conditions to reduce the chances that an elderly patient 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, smart video analytics can notify nurses that this has occurred. Intelligent video analytics are even able to detect various types of fall risks, including cords, wires and phone charges, to name a few. The video analytic software can send an alarm at the moment the risk presents itself, so staff can intervene before a fall happens.

An open platform VMS, together with video analytics and sound sensors, can also indicate other types of anomalies. For example, sound sensors can detect glass breaking, which could be a window, a vase or another object that has fallen in the room, presenting a hazard.

Similarly, smart analytics are also used with bed and wheelchair alarms, such as when a bedridden patient gets out of bed or a disabled person tries to rise from their wheelchair; the analytics can detect this and trigger an alarm. Intelligent video systems can even track the resident’s whereabouts from one room to the next, allowing nurses to easily monitor those with a propensity to wander.

If necessary, residents can be fitted with radio frequency (RFID) tags or bracelets that emit a signal. The VMS can track the signal via a map of the facility that shows where a particular resident is at any given time. Nurses are then able to access cameras to verify the resident’s whereabouts. To ensure that people’s privacy is respected while being monitored, smart cameras and video systems can be programmed with facial redaction or privacy masking to blur out residents and protect their identity. Only a system administrator can lift the privacy feature, ensuring privacy is always maintained.

Improved security, optimised operations

In Ecuador, the Alfredo G. Paulson Women’s Hospital had experienced medical supply theft and patient complaints that could not be verified. Administrators found a flexible and reliable solution in an open platform, VMS. With the new VMS, the hospital now relies on the user-friendly, intuitive interface to easily integrate with other security systems for an efficient, unified monitoring solution.

“One of the reasons we chose this solution was for the ability to add video analytics,” explained Mauro Avecilla, automation and inspection engineer for MELACORP, the company leading the video surveillance system’s installation. “Our goal was to achieve a true source of support in operational procedures. The Welfare Board can now count on the analytics of a missing object, located object and cases in which those lines cross, among other options.”

Avecilla emphasised the importance of the system allowing integration with their access control and alarm systems as well as monitoring non-security processes within the hospital. It’s now possible to monitor healthcare activities like sterilisation, using video technology to review how many cycles the nurses have completed and compare that with their written records. This ensures better quality standards for staff and patients alike.

In Nebraska, US a leading healthcare institution was looking for an opportunity to improve patient safety while reducing overhead costs. An operations manager was asked to investigate video monitoring as an option.

“Our goal was to ensure patient safety and to reduce costs,” she said. “We always have a certain population of patients who are confused and agitated; patients who we are not comfortable to leave alone in their rooms. It was previously necessary to staff those rooms for round-the-clock observation. At a time when changing budget priorities meant we needed to reduce our staffing, installing video monitoring cameras at almost every bedside was the best option and helped us a great deal.”

Today’s open, flexible video management systems can provide robust safety solutions for providers’ essential, vital, daily monitoring. In long term care facilities, VMS is a powerful tool to not only aid nurses but also ensure the safety and wellbeing of residents. The examples discussed here are only a few of the ways the healthcare industry can tout the capabilities of video.

In years past, video surveillance was used to simply record evidence or act as a theft deterrent. Today, responsive, intelligent video technology innovations are an essential, proactive ally for long term care providers in their day-to-day responsibilities.

For more information, visit:

This article was originally published in the special September show edition of International Security Journal. To read your FREE digital edition, click here.

Receive the latest breaking news straight to your inbox