The dark side of food delivery: How it affects the security of your healthcare facility
Written by Steven Sperry
Food delivery has revolutionized the way we consume food, with companies such as Uber Eats, DoorDash, and Grubhub providing customers with easy access to their favorite meals from their favorite restaurants. However, while the convenience of food delivery cannot be overstated, its impact on the security of hospitals and other healthcare facilities and the safety of their patients and staff hasn’t always been positive. Here are two significant security challenges that come with food delivery.
Crimes of opportunity
The rise of food delivery services has created a new set of challenges for the security of healthcare facilities, including an increase in crimes of opportunity. Unlike the employees of package delivery companies like UPS, Fedex, and the USPS, food delivery workers are usually lower-paid gig (contract) workers who haven’t undergone rigorous background checks. When they arrive with a food delivery, they are often admitted without any screening or supervision. Since food delivery is a high-turnover occupation, it’s more likely than not that the delivery worker has never been to the facility before. Because they’re not familiar with the layout of the building, they can end up wandering around, looking for the recipient. Dishonest individuals can and do steal unattended items, putting patients’ and staff members’ personal information at risk and causing them to lose their property. In a worst case scenario, personal safety can be put at risk, especially if doors are left ajar or unlocked.
A second challenge food deliveries pose to healthcare facilities is the potential for tipping disputes to result in violent or threatening behavior. There are many well-publicized instances of food delivery workers, angry over their tips, banging on doors or engaging in otherwise threatening behavior in an attempt to frighten or intimidate the customer into increasing the tip. It goes without saying that patients and staff should never be made to feel unsafe in hospitals or other healthcare facilities, and that it’s the responsibility of the healthcare provider to ensure that their facilities are free of threats and intimidation from delivery workers.
What can be done?
To mitigate these security risks, healthcare providers must take proactive steps to ensure that food deliveries are properly managed. To keep food delivery workers out of secure areas, many properties have resorted to implementing drop-off tables or having the front desk staff receive and manage food deliveries. While this approach helps restrict delivery workers to lobbies, it creates its own set of challenges, including lost, missing, or stolen food; distractions for front desk staff; cluttered lobbies; and a higher risk of foodborne illness, for which the healthcare provider may be held liable. To address these challenges, healthcare facilities are implementing food delivery management (FDM) solutions. An FDM solution is a food-safe “smart locker” that manages and monitors every food delivery. FDM solutions enhance safety and building security by acting as a buffer between delivery workers, patients and staff.
While food delivery services provide us with unprecedented convenience and selection, they also create new security challenges for apartment communities and condominium buildings. By taking proactive measures to properly manage food deliveries, multifamily owners and operators can enhance the security of their buildings and the safety of their residents.
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