Cabinet Level Access Control for Healthcare

Access control is all about selectively restricting access to a given resource or location. Locks, electronic keypads, card access doors, cameras, and security systems are just a few examples of physical security measures for access control.

Reasons for Access Control

Safety, accountability, data security, compliance, and security are just a few reasons why access control is essential in healthcare.


Safety is of the outmost important in healthcare. There is a balance between keeping patients, visitors, and staff safe while maintaining efficient processes and procedures. Access control systems enable healthcare providers to find this balance.


When it comes to access control, there may be a need to document access for accountability, security, and compliance.  Audit trails are a common form of documentation that provides a record of access detailing the user, date, and time. A documented, electronic audit trail that is irrefutable can be invaluable if an incident arises. Cameras are also often used for an added level of security and accountability.

Data Security

The access level of physical security measures directly impacts data security. Electronic access and access control systems are used to improve data security. When it comes to data processing and data storage, data privacy standards and regulations require both access control and documentation of access.


Data security goes hand in hand with compliance. Specifically, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) protects sensitive patient health information from being disclosed. Prescriptions and patient-specific treatments are labeled with patient information to ensure appropriate use, but this also means that this patient information needs to be protected.


To prevent theft, loss, and data breaches, physical security measures and access control is necessary.

Infection Control

Access control helps reduce the number of touchpoints which in turn reduces the spread through contact of contaminated surfaces when fewer individuals have access. Access control systems that are contactless, such as a card scanner, provide a greater degree of infection control. Access control systems that require contact, such as a touch pad or fingerprint scanner, need to be continuously sanitized and disinfected.

Access Control Considerations

When it comes to access control, there are a variety of tools that can be used in isolation and/or in combination. When determining what is right for your location, you will want to consider: level of access control, type of access, authentication, documentation, installation, detection and response, and cost.

Level of Access Control

Consider how the location and the associated resources influence the level of access control. Depending on the location and how that location is used, you may need one level of security with a secured door to multi-layers of security with a secured door and additional cabinet-level security.

In healthcare, there are many examples and levels of access control depending on the location. For the emergency room, there are secured doors between the reception area and the treatment area. For surgical units, there are secured doors between patient intake to the operating room as well as additional electronic access control for critical items such as anesthesia. In long-term care, there is a secured door to the medication rooms with additional cabinet level access control for specific controlled substances.

Type of Access

Consider how the location will be accessed – a key, card, electronic code, fingerprint. etc.  The type of access directly influences the level of security.

There are three levels of security:

  1. Physical such as a card or key
  2. Code such as electronic code or security question
  3. Biometric such as a fingerprint or eye scanner

There are trade-offs between the type of access. Physical keys or cards are easier to assign but are more likely to be stolen. An electronic code is also easy to assign, but still can be guessed. Still, the electronic code won’t be as easy to steal or lose compared to a key or card. A biometric is harder to assign, but less likely to be stolen.


When it comes to authentication, there is single-factor, dual-factor, and multi-factor authentication. Single-factor authentication require one key such as a card, electronic code, or biometric. Dual-factor authentication requires two keys, while multi-factor key requires a third key. Each additional level of authentication adds a layer of security.


You also need to consider what type of documentation you need to record access. There are manual forms of logging, such as a sign-in sheet and/or tracking of access through video records. However, manual forms of logging can be time-consuming and are often subject to human error. Electronic logging, such as an audit trail, automates the process and reduces the chance of data manipulation. Depending on the applicable regulations and data, you may need an audit trail that provides a record of access detailing the user, date, and time.


Physical security measures for access control can be stand-alone or adaptive. Some locks can be added to your existing furniture and infrastructure, while other locks require an investment into new furniture and infrastructure.

Detection and Response

It is also important to consider how you detect and respond to theft, a data breach, etc. Manual access control systems require the individual to report when the key or card is stolen or lost. Then, the locks must be rekeyed. Depending on the integrated software, some electronic access control systems can detect when a door is left opened and/or when there is unusual account activity. Others may rely on the user to report an incident. Once an incident is detected, you can disable the stolen credentials and reprogram accordingly. Electronic access control systems help automate and simplify the process.


The cost of the access control system will often include a hardware cost, implementation cost, and maintenance cost. The cost of installing a cabinet level access control system is far less than the cost to install an access-controlled entry system that requires a card. The cost of implementation will include the human resources required to setup the system as well as setup access to the system. The cost of maintenance will depend on how the system is updated, how access is granted, and how often access is changed.

Riemer Systems Cabinet Level Access Control

Designed for healthcare, Riemer Systems provides cabinet level access control with our wall mounted locking cabinets and portable lock boxes. 

Level of Access Control

At Riemer Systems, our locking cabinets and portable lock boxes provide cabinet-level access control. Our cabinet-level access control systems provide secure storage for medications, multi-dose ointments, supplies, devices, and other critical items.

Type of Access

Our locking cabinets and/or lock boxes can be opened with an electronic code and/or the manual backup safety key. When it comes time to choosing a lock, you have three choices: self-locking, manual/shared use, and audit trail (Learn more about lock types).


Our storage solutions require single-factor authentication.


The self-locking lock and manual/shared use lock by itself do not provide a log of access. If you need documentation, add-on our audit trail lock that features a 1,500-rolling event record with a time and date stamp record of user access (Learn more about audit trail locks). 


Our lock boxes and locking cabinet can be standalone or can be mounted. However, for enhanced security, many of our customers choose to mount their locking cabinet to a surface/wall. If you need a portable solution, our Portable Electronic Control Box is a great alternative to our locking cabinets.

Detection and Response

Our self-locking lock safeguards against cabinet doors being left open compared to the manual lock which requires the user to turn the lock.

If an incident does occur, both our shared-use and audit trail user codes can be easily updated without having to reprogram the lock each time.


The cost depends on the storage type (locking cabinet vs. lock box), the type of door, and the type of lock. You can browse our products online and customize accordingly!

How to Purchase

If you are looking for a cabinet-level access control system designed specifically for healthcare, you are welcome to browse our products online. You can purchase online or request a quote.  If you have any additional questions on our locking cabinets and/or portable lock boxes, please contact us to discuss.