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COVID-19 & Mass Notification Systems

The outbreakof COVID-19 and its rapid worldwide spread demanded a rapid response fromgovernments, public health authorities, and frontline healthcare workers aroundthe globe. It quickly became evident that SNS-based monitoring and notificationsystems would be a vital tool in saving lives, tracking the pandemic’s spread,and combating future outbreaks. Here, we look at the ways SNS++  byHighnet Systems has made the difference for major international hospitalsfacing unprecedented threats and increasingly difficult working conditions.

When considering the IT needs of a hospital, it is often assumed that healthcare institutions are far simpler, with much lower computing demands, than the average corporation. However, a hospital like Rabin Medical Center in Petah-Tikva, Israel, which is served by Highnet Systems, is much larger in computing terms than a nearby telecom giant.

Just like a conventional company, a hospital is made up of diverse departments and personnel with various unique needs. Unlike most companies, hospital alerts and notifications relate directly to the physical safety of patients and staff, and potentially mean the difference between life and death. However, in many cases each department operates their own discrete system (or does not have a system at all), which has serious security flaws alongside poor performance and a lack of integration with all the other discrete systems.

For example, SNS++ is connected to a monitoring system that performs surveillance for all matters related to hospital computing: servers, databases, IP cameras, doors, vending machines, HVAC, and so on. 

The alerts it receives are related to issues that are very different in nature, but similar in terms of their urgency:

• Temperature Sensors for Drug Cabinets

When a server overheats, we all know about it – because the server simply stops working. However, when a drug cabinet overheats, we may be none the wiser until the patient starts to experience adverse effects. Perhaps a refrigerator stopped working overnight, the drugs warmed up to room temperature for several hours, and then the refrigerator came back on in the morning. Then patients are given medications that should have been disposed of instead. 

SNS++ uses “heartbeat monitoring” to constantly sample these sensors, so that an alert is sent when there is no signal at all, as well as on occasions when the sensors correctly identify a temperature change. The alert is directed to the relevant person, or persons, who must confirm that they have received the alert – if not, the alert is reported to another designated staff member, with defined escalation strategies.

• Sensor Systems in Computer & Telecom Rooms

Overheating sensor components are not unique to hospitals, but the impact of a sudden server shutdown in a healthcare setting can be devastating. 

• Patient Notifications

Typical messages to patients about upcoming appointments, providing them with reminder sand basic information (doctor’s name, location) while helping to reduce wait times and make scheduling more efficient. SNS++ makes it possible to send relevant alerts to thousands of patients, which is a feature not available from competing systems.


• Security& Confidentiality Considerations

The COVID-19 pandemic has also raised significant security concerns regarding the confidentiality of personal information like test results. Most mass notification systems are cloud based, but the cloud has significant limitations. In one case, a major cloud-based company had its systems breached, with a database containing confidential customer information being leaked to the attackers. 

 Recently, notifications regarding COVID-19 status (positive/negative) and potential exposure have been the focus of daily life for people everywhere. With SNS++,this information remains on premises. Once it has been sent to the relevant person through a defined channel and receipt has been verified, the information is deleted from the database so that others accessing the database cannot view it. There is also no reliance on a single provider whose systems can be breached.

 Since theCOVID-19 pandemic began, SNS++ has enabled large healthcare institutions to reliably tackle patient health, security, administrative, IT, and pharmaceutical challenges through smart real-time alert routing that minimizes “noise” and eliminates alert flooding. Together with its direct system integration and unique on-premises installation, SNS++ helps hospitals to overcome daily challenges, including within extreme pandemic conditions.

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