How Hospitals with Unrestricted Family Visitation Policies Can Maintain Security

Hospitals must achieve the right balance between openness and security. A systems integrator can help with this process.

How Hospitals with Unrestricted Family Visitation Policies Can Maintain Security

Although unrestricted hospital visitation helps patients recover, it places an additional burden on security and the public safety department staff who must maintain a safe and secure healthcare environment.

Hospital security professionals are constantly performing a balancing act when it comes to visitor management.

On the one hand, evidence indicates patients fare better when they have more visitors. According to a 2015 practice alert published by the American Association of Critical Care Nurses, unrestricted visitation by family members “can improve communication, facilitate a better understanding of the patient, advance patient- and family-centered care, and enhance staff satisfaction.”

As a result, more healthcare facilities have removed restrictions on their visiting hours.

Although this change helps patients recover, it places an additional burden on security and the public safety department staff, who must maintain a safe and secure healthcare environment. How can they effectively identify who is coming and going so that only appropriate visitors are allowed inside the building?

Access Control Technology Can Help with Visitor Management

One might think that the manual sign-in approach to visitor management is an obvious choice because it is inexpensive on the front-end. This approach, however, is problematic because it doesn’t screen visitors and has confidentiality, legibility and efficiency issues. As a result, a manual sign-in system could be costly to a healthcare organization after an incident happens that could have been prevented with a more robust and effective visitor management solution in place.

There are several technologies that can help address the challenges associated with manual sign-in, such as software to screen, badge and track visitors entering a hospital. These solutions can be deployed in buildings or mobile systems, and can scan the visitor’s driver’s license as well as capture other information, such as which patient the person will be visiting. More than half (56 percent) of hospitals have already installed visitor management systems or are considering doing so in the next two years, according to Campus Safety’s 2017 Access Control Survey.

That same survey found that 77 percent of hospital respondents have installed or are considering the installation of card and/or biometric access control systems. This is a positive sign in that locks and access control credential systems can also do much to limit visitor access to sensitive locations, such as maternity departments, emergency departments, administrative offices, data networks, etc. It’s even better when the access control and visitor management systems are integrated with other security systems, such as video surveillance and intrusion, as well as non-security systems such as human resources and IT.

Additionally, incorporating Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design (CPTED) can help. Secure front entrance vestibules, for example, are gaining in popularity with 41 percent of hospitals reporting they’ve already adopted this approach or are considering doing so in the next two years.

But how can a hospital adopt these solutions without the facility access process being cumbersome and obtrusive? How can a healthcare organization maintain an open and welcoming environment while protecting patients, clinicians, staff, campus property and patient medical records, not to mention complying with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA)?

A Trusted Integrator Can Help

Fortunately, a healthcare campus doesn’t need to develop its visitor management systems alone. A trusted security integrator can help hospital officials achieve the right balance between openness and security. Integrators can assist in developing functional standards across the entire campus to create a cohesive security program that meets the needs of campus stakeholders and addresses the overall goals of the organization. STANLEY Security frequently provides the following systems to its healthcare clients:

  • Video Surveillance Cameras
  • Video Monitoring
  • Access Control Systems
  • STANLEY® Guard Personal Safety and Security Response
  • Panic Buttons for Nurse Stations and Staff
  • Mass Notification and Emergency Communication
  • Standards Development and Strategic Planning
  • Software Support, Consultation and Integration
  • 24 Hour UL and ULC Monitoring Services
  • Custom Systems Integration
  • System Consultation, Design and Installation
  • Preventive Maintenance and Service Plans
  • Behavioral Health Solutions
  • Intrusion Alarm Systems
  • Lock Down Solutions
  • Fire Alarm Systems with Regular Tests and Inspections

For more information on the security solutions you can implement on your healthcare campus or for educational resources on improving your security program, visit STANLEY Security at stanleycss.com/healthcare.

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Campus Safety magazine is another great resource for public safety, security and emergency management professionals. It covers all aspects of campus safety, including access control, video surveillance, mass notification and security staff practices. Whether you work in K-12, higher ed, a hospital or corporation, Campus Safety magazine is here to help you do your job better!

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