The Deaconess Guardian app has an emergency widget that appears when a user swipes right from their smartphone’s home screen.

Image courtesy of Deaconess Health System

Through its mission to evaluate strategies to strengthen workplace security, the Midwest-based Deaconess Health System decided to invest in a staff security app for use on smartphones and other mobile devices. The health system’s workplace violence committee contracted 911Cellular, a safety technology company based in Solon, Ohio, to provide a range of security integrations through a custom app that is now available to all health system employees across Indiana, Illinois and Kentucky.

The Deaconess Guardian app features a duress button that can be activated by any staff member from the smartphone’s lock screen to trigger a systemwide lockdown in the event of an emergency. Within geofence-enabled campuses, the button directs the health system’s private police force to the specific location where help is needed. Outside the geofence, it connects directly to 911. 

Chance Farmer, police chief at Deaconess Health System, notes that by eliminating the extra step of having employees put on a badge equipped with a duress button, the app provides valuable convenience and eliminates potential gaps in coverage. 

While it was the duress feature that first appealed to Deaconess’ workplace violence committee, it’s the employee tip feature that has proven to be the most used solution since the app was launched earlier this year. Through the app, employees can proactively report safety concerns. 

“We have seen an increase in people submitting tips for suspicious activity as well as things like open or unlocked doors, unsecured areas or lighting issues,” Farmer says. Previously, employees could call or email the security team with tips. Now, Farmer says, “It’s a lot less work on employees’ part. They don’t have to remember the number to the security desk. They can just hit a couple of buttons on their phone and go on about their day.”

The app also makes emergency resource documents and locations easily accessible and allows for future configuration as needs change. Farmer notes the security team is still eyeing the value of the app’s mass notification features, alongside their existing solutions, due to its ability to limit alerts to individuals located within a specific geofence. 

For other health systems evaluating a security app, Farmer advises connecting early with information technology (IT) teams to discuss implementation. “How this integrates into your IT infrastructure is really a big component for getting this project off the ground,” he says. “It’s critical to have this piece be a focal point before you move forward.”