Visitor Management Helps Hospital Visitation Policies
Visitor Management Systems Help Open Hospitals to Liberal Visitation Policies, Helping Patients Heal Faster
Healthcare professionals time and again say that patients who have liberal visits with loved ones during a hospital stay experience a more rapid recovery and healing. This family-centered philosophy, once a security challenge for most healthcare facilities, has been addressed in a growing number of hospitals across the U.S. through a visitor management system designed specifically for healthcare facilities.
Depending upon the facility, visitor management systems can vary, ranging from after-hours badging at some hospitals to 24/7 visitor access management at others.
Children’s hospitals often have a higher standard for security and visitor restrictions, while offering 24/7 visitor access so that parents can spend as much time as possible with their child during hospitalization. Providing safe, extended hourly access for patient visitors begins with a carefully designed and implemented visitor security system like Veristream’s iVisitor for Healthcare. This system requires all visitors to pass identification and badging procedures, ensuring that only those visitors who should be on the premises are granted access.
Combined with a visitor management system, which is able to instantly identify people who are not permitted to visit a patient, public safety and security employees who are trained extensively to deal with non-violent crisis prevention and intervention, first aid and other potential issues at the lobby desk are able to maintain the highest level of security. Security staff also maintains a list of patient visitor requests and other information in order to reinforce restraining orders or facilitate the visits of separated parents allowing them to be with their child during different shifts.
Protecting staff and families
Nursing staff can take advantage of visitor management protocols by alerting hospital facilitators about domestic issues among patients and visitors and request that certain visitors be prevented access to a patient when they discover a problem. Many hospitals also post gatekeepers in the lobby and at the elevator entrance to every floor for the safety of hospital staff and patients, especially at night.
Healthcare employees are also trained to look for visitor badges after-hours to make sure visitor protocols are being met.
Effective visitor management and badging systems are helping patients get the secure care they need while supplying management with more data and crime prevention tools. With thousands of people entering hospital lobbies every day, a mandatory check-in at a visitor pass kiosk or lobby reception desk, which checks a state-issued ID, verifies the visitor’s destination, checks for an “unpublished patient” status (patients who do not want visitors) and cross-checks sex-offender databases; it only makes sense that a streamlined system should be in place to make patient visitations work in everyone’s best interest. Badges are printed at check-in to meet HIPAA, privacy and civil rights concerns. The visitor’s last name is not printed on their temporary security badge and generic room numbers are used as destination markers instead of departments.
These procedures help hospital administrators and staff know who is in the building at any time, and provide an easily accessible audit trail. Having all of a patient’s visitor restrictions in a single, central system helps reinforce their safety and mitigate workplace violence or domestic violence risks.
Clinical and Research Healthcare Facilities Create More Welcoming Environments with Visitor Management Systems
Specific concerns include workplace violence prevention, restricting access to medications and managing patient safety. On the research side, managing security for wet labs and dry labs, chemical or nuclear materials and portable device and data security is critical; but at the same time security should not inhibit collaboration.
By using visitor management kiosks in hospital lobbies, such as Veristream’s iVisitor for Healthcare, research staff can pre-register visitors and collaborators, who will receive a pre-registration email with instructions on where to go and how to get badged. Visitors for clinical or research departments can scan their driver’s license at the kiosk, which will print a barcoded badge on the spot, enabling access to specified floors via a barcode-operated elevator.
Lobby security officers can verify badges to allow access, which helps to create an open and welcoming environment.
Large healthcare systems with multiple hospitals and ancillary office buildings throughout multiple states requiring visitor management services undergo individual hospital security assessments to identify unique vulnerabilities, interview employees, look at area crime statistics and make overall recommendations to suit each facility.
Not-for-profit healthcare systems sometimes have a harder time getting proactive funding for security – making a security management system more desirable since it is affordable, does not require hiring additional security officers, and gives existing security staff the ability to shift from one department to another depending on need.
Hospitals also deal with numerous mental health patients appearing in emergency departments; and in many healthcare facilities today staff in high-risk departments, as well as security officers, are now trained in workplace violence (CPI training) to know what to look for in terms of escalation, how to diffuse a potentially dangerous situation, know when to call for assistance and when to get out of harm’s way.
The delicate balance of hospital lobby security
Hospitals strive to retain a fine balance between providing an open and welcoming environment for visitors and patients, while having security measures in place to protect people and property. With the constant, high-volume flow of people passing through their lobbies for various reasons – a doctor’s appointment, a visit to a clinic or lab, visiting a friend or relative, medical and pharmaceutical sales vendors, deliveries, and employees moving from area to area, entering and exiting from numerous entrances – it can be nearly impossible to effectively manage all of this activity without taking away some of the facility’s welcoming environment. But, options like visitor management systems go a long way in providing an efficient and effective protocol to maximize security without impeding visitor services.
Hospital security is always a work in progress; it requires continuous adaptation to keep pace with changing times and technologies. However, the only way a hospital can fail at implementing an effective security program is by failing to try.