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Visitor Management Systems for Hospitals: Balancing Security with Patient Satisfaction

Visitor management systems should be able to integrate security systems like access control to maintain hospital security and a welcoming atmosphere.

Finding a good visitor management system is especially important for hospitals, who face a multitude of threats to people and property, including physical assaults and the theft of medical supplies, drugs or sensitive patient information.

This puts significant strain on the hospital security professionals who must contend with and protect against these threats while balancing the need to maintain an open and inviting environment that facilitates the highest levels of medical treatment and healing.

Balancing Patient Satisfaction with Hospital Security

Competition between healthcare organizations continues to grow, placing greater emphasis on patient satisfaction and retention. Studies have shown that allowing patients to spend more time with friends and family can improve outcomes by reducing feelings of isolation and anxiety. Research also suggests that individuals recovering from surgery who have family with them suffer less nerve-related pain, and their inflammation levels decrease faster.

As a result, many hospitals have removed restrictions on visiting hours to create more welcoming and nurturing environments. In addition, hospital security departments have their own critical contribution to patient acquisition and retention goals – ensuring the security and safety of the patients, visitors and others.

While relaxed visiting hours are proving beneficial to health and patient recovery, this trend places a far greater burden on security departments and staff who must ensure that everyone who comes and goes from a facility can be easily identified and have the proper controls and privileges placed on their access. The challenge for hospital security professionals is to balance these broad access and security objectives while preserving the safety and privacy of patient and visitors.

The strain is intensified by the additional need to maintain and demonstrate compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), Joint Commission standards, and other government and industry regulations governing healthcare organizations.

Visitor Management Systems and Options

Visitor management systems and techniques like using passes, access cards and other credentials can allow physical access to certain areas within a hospital, but managing them can be complicated given the number and variety of credentials that must be issued. Requiring visitors or contractors to manually sign in and out and/or wear badges is difficult to enforce. Additionally, employee badging systems help identify who is authorized to be in particular areas, but these badges can be easily compromised.

Furthermore, if the badging system isn’t integrated with other security systems, credentials can actually be a weak link in an access control solution. Given the number and variety of the potential threats to healthcare today, it’s no longer feasible – from both security and cost perspectives – for organizations to continue to employ inefficient methods and segregated systems that offer little to no level of integration. Maintaining the status quo is simply not an option.

When it comes to hospital security, manual processes are the norm for a number of vital access operations, such as issuing identification badges, managing databases and assigning access privileges for different identity types across multiple physical access control systems.

In many cases, visitors and contractors are tracked using physical sign-in sheets. Onboarding requests are sent back and forth via email, and the provisioning of new identities is done manually.

While it doesn’t seem like all this manual intervention has a high cost associated with it, this activity indeed adds up. Whether it is productivity loss from inefficient resource allocation or the time it takes to fix mistakes caused by human error or delays in processing access requests, these manual operations cost healthcare organizations time and money.

Integrated Visitor Management Systems Save Hospitals Big

Healthcare organizations need to seek out and implement more centralized, streamlined approaches to managing identities, access control and overall hospital security in general. To be most effective, there must be integrated security systems, as well as non-security systems like HR, IT and others, which are currently segregated within many healthcare organizations.

Bringing these disparate systems together is the best way to ensure staff, patients, visitors, contractors, vendors and others are given the proper level of access privileges to enter the appropriate areas for the right length of time.

A centralized physical identity and access management (PIAM) solution integrates diverse existing physical security, IT and other systems. Such a visitor management system can automate key processes and workflows to optimize security operations, centralize control and enable compliance with regulatory mandates in real-time.

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