Allegion Study Indicates COVID-19 Accelerated Adoption of Security Measures in Health-care Facilities

Allegion U.S., a provider of security products and solutions, revealed the results of a health care survey that provides insight into trends and challenges of today’s hospitals. This survey, “2022 Health Care Trends Report: A Study on How Health Care Facilities Are Using Technology to Meet the Demands of the Changing Landscape,” includes input from 100 decision-makers across leading U.S. health systems including Ascension Health, HCA Healthcare, John Hopkins Medicine and Kaiser Permanente.

Beyond PPE and touchless access control, the study unveiled how COVID-19 accelerated the adoption of new security and safety measures aimed at protecting people and physical assets. Many strategic initiatives around door hardware and access control have been adopted since, with more being planned for the coming months. 

In 2016, Allegion conducted a similar study, providing a benchmark for recent developments around electronic access control adoption, which were on the rise before 2020. Over the last five years, electronic usage has evolved, and there are more accommodations for patients with disabilities and behavioral health conditions.

“Health care has long been a dynamic market as result of continuous advancements and new technologies on the medical front,” says Connie Alexander, senior manager for primary research and insights. “Our research reveals that we are now witnessing unprecedented evolution in other aspects of health care environments, particularly relative to the safety and security of patients, property, and staff.”

The key trends and challenges examined in the report are outlined below:

  • Pandemic Impact—The last two years devasted the health care industry in many ways and profoundly altered how health care facilities operate.
    • 88 percent of health care professionals cited at least one way that COVID-19 impacted their organization’s infrastructure needs and plans
    • 73 percent added extra layers of security to limit the spread of infection while protecting people and property
    • 59 percent added touchless technology at openings and 62 percent electrified openings with access control
  • Surface Transmission Strategies—While infection control has always been a top health care priority, COVID-19 forced facilities to adopt new solutions.
    • 89 percent are using antimicrobial products in their facilities today, up a significant 170 percent from 2016
    • 61 percent are using hands-free or touchless access products more than before
    • 93 percent are using touchless or hands-free products throughout the building—from patient areas like individual rooms and the ICU to common spaces like restrooms and reception areas
  • Strategic Initiatives & Planning—Looking ahead, health care industry leaders expect to see security-related initiatives grow in the next 12 months.
    • 55 percent of hospitals standardized purchasing of door hardware and access control products, up 13 percent from five years ago
    • 40 percent plan to expand their security plans in the next year, including projects related to key control, credentialing and ligature resistance
  • Electronic Access Control Adoption—Adoption escalated throughout the health care market over the last five years, especially among larger facilities located in urban and suburban markets. Common areas with electronic door hardware in place include surgical suites, nurseries, behavioral health units and equipment rooms.
    • 92 percent are using electronic access control to some extent, 13 percent higher than in 2016
    • Of those using connected systems in their facilities, 82 percent are using hardwired electronic access control products, and 71 percent are using wireless technologies
    • Health care professionals cite cost (34 percent) and lack of budgets (28 percent) as primary barriers to widespread electronic access control adoption
  • Patient Accommodations—Facilities have become more accommodating for patients of all abilities and needs. The pandemic and an increased focus on mental health are cited as key drivers for these shifts.
    • Over 80 percent of hospitals updated doors to meet ADA compliance over the last year
    • Changing door knobs to levers (45 percent) and adding automatic door operators (44 percent) were the most common changes made in areas like patient rooms, common areas and restrooms
    • 57 percent are experiencing an increase in patients requiring rooms with ligature resistant hardware—which is specifically designed to reduce the risk of strangulation—up 7 percent from five years ago
  • Prioritizing Staff Satisfaction—Hospitals and other facilities appear to be valuing their employees and prioritizing staff satisfaction, which may be attributed to the impact COVID-19 had on this workforce.
    • When asked how their organization measures effectiveness of hands-free and touchless products, the top response was improvement of staff satisfaction (66 percent)
    • At 60 percent, staff satisfaction was in the top three answers when asked a similar question about measuring the effectiveness of antimicrobials
    • Staff satisfaction was ranked number one for how respondents measure the effectiveness of quiet door hardware

Allegion works with health care facilities to provide flexible security and access control offerings that meet the demands of today’s patients and staff. For more information, please visit allegion.com/hospital-trends.  For further insight on key findings, register for Allegion’s upcoming Security in 30 webinar, Healthcare Insights in a Rapidly Evolving Landscape, on April 15 at 12:30 p.m.

Data Source: Allegion. Survey of 100 key decision makers in U.S. hospitals (including C-suite, purchasing and procurement, facilities and operations, clinical and services lines, and safety and security); 30-minute blind survey; to qualify, decision makers had to have worked with, purchased or recommended one or more types of door hardware, access control or both in the past 12 months; conducted August through September 2021.  

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