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What is a healthcare visitor management system?

Visitor management is an essential part of basic security for hospitals and health systems, providing critical visibility into the who, what and when of visitors accessing their facilities and spaces. A visitor management system is a combination of hardware and software that enables healthcare organizations to digitize and automate their visitor management protocols, delivering the needed visibility and control — part of the foundation for security, compliance, patient and staff safety, clinical care quality and patient experience.

Why is visitor management important in healthcare?

Visitor management is a critical requirement in a range of industries today and typically associated with high-assurance needs around protecting highly sensitive information. This is certainly one of the main reasons that a visitor management system is so important for hospitals and health systems — helping to meet HIPAA and other compliance requirements around securing patient health information (PHI) and ensuring data privacy. Secure visitor management is increasingly important in the face of growing cyberattacks and other data privacy and data security incidents targeting the healthcare industry — and the growing costs of these incidents to the victimized organizations.

The benefits of visitor management in healthcare

  • Meeting compliance requirements: As mentioned, visitor management plays a role in HIPAA and other regulatory compliance requirements governing hospitals and health systems. Effective visitor management enables healthcare organizations to identify visitors, control access and monitor movement to meet security, safety and infection control requirements.
  • Protecting patient and staff safety: Visitor management helps a healthcare organization ensure only authorized individuals gain access beyond main lobbies, waiting rooms and common spaces. Controlling access to patient rooms and other clinical areas — and preventing unauthorized or known-risk individuals from entering a space or facility — plays a major role in security the safety of both patients and staff.
  • Supporting clinical care quality: Visiting hours exist for a reason. Limiting visitor access to patient rooms and other clinical care areas is necessary for ensuring optimal clinical care quality.
  • Enhancing infection control: There has always been a relatively high risk around common infectious agents present in healthcare environments — from influenza to COVID-19 and more. Visitor management is essential to limiting capacity, supporting physical distancing, enabling contact tracing and other infection control measures.
  • Protecting assets: Healthcare organizations manage a large amount of high-value, highly sensitive equipment and technology — including devices which are subject to accidental and intentional damage or theft. These issues not only present the cost of repair or replacement, but also bring potential care delays. Proper physical access control, including a visitor management system, helps to protect these assets and keep them available and functioning properly.
  • Protecting brand reputation: Visitor experiences are important to brand reputation in any healthcare setting — and often inextricably linked to the patient experience, as well. A well-executed visitor management system achieves the necessary control, making patients and visitors feel welcome, secure and cared for.

Security techniques and best practices for healthcare visitor management

Pre-registering & pre-screening visitors for security and infection control

Infection control measures have always been critical in healthcare settings — but the focus on enhanced infection control has been irreversibly amplified by the pandemic. Leading visitor management systems support this through efficient, reliable pre-registration and pre-screening. Visitors receive an email and/or text the day before their visit, prompting them to provide basic identification information and screening them for symptoms and other concerns. This pre-registration and pre-screening dramatically streamlines the check-in process upon arrival, eliminating the bottlenecks and backups that frustrate visitors and present counterproductive infection control risks. This also reduces the risk of human errors in a rushed check-in process. Finally, pre-screening helps to avoid the unpleasant experience of being turned away at desk due to unscheduled visit, improper identification or concerning symptoms.

Establishing zoned visitor management and access control

In most healthcare settings, simply knowing who has walked through the front door isn’t enough. You need to know where a visitor is within your facility — and have more granular access control over their visit. Leading visitor management systems make it easy to set up zoned visitor management and access control. Healthcare organizations can prevent visitor access to restricted or highly sensitive areas of the hospital or clinic, such as those with particular infection control concerns or data security risks. Zoned visitor management also makes it simple to accommodate varied visiting hours, because the visiting hours of the ICU often differs from that of the labor & delivery unit or general surgery floor, for example. Zoned visitor management delivers more granular tracking and monitoring capabilities for audit and investigation purposes.

Components of a healthcare visitor management system

There are three main components of a modern, digital visitor management system:

  • Centralized administration: The system or platform that that orchestrates the check-in, access control, monitoring and logging/documentation. The admin platform should provide a simple, easy-to-learn interface for admin staff. Leading visitor management systems use intuitive dashboards that give admin staff an at-a-glance view of scheduled or planned visitors, upcoming arrivals, current visitors, as well as easy access to historical reporting for audit, contact tracing, investigation and more.
  • Visitor badging: A visitor management system must provide the technology to rapidly produce personalized, high-assurance visitor identification badges at check-in. Today’s sophisticated badging systems make it easy to include physical access capabilities, RFID tracking and more into a simple, visually appealing visitor badge. This badge not only serves to identify visitors, but is the mechanism which enables monitoring and access control in real time.
  • Staff ID cards: A visitor management must be fully and seamlessly integrated with a healthcare organization’s staff identification/authentication/access control program. Staff ID cards play a critical role in the visitor management system, enabling admin staff to easily differentiate and identify staff vs. visitors at a glance, and are necessary for contact tracing, physical distancing, etc.

Visitor management as a service (VMaaS)

Given the multiple technical components of a healthcare visitor management system, it can be challenging to determine how to select components — and complicated to implement and maintain them. That’s why the visitor management as-a-service (VMaaS) model is rapidly gaining adoption in the healthcare space. VMaaS simplifies the entire solution, giving healthcare organizations a cloud-based route to effective, modern visitor management.

  • Fully managed service: All the hardware and software is delivered, deployed and maintained by your vendor partner, enabling easy administration with minimal IT burden.
  • Rapid deployment: The cloud deployment enables rapid deployment without major upfront capital costs.
  • Maximum flexibility: The aaS model offers near-real-time flexibility and scalability to accommodate constantly changing visitor traffic.
  • Optimized security & functionality: The cloud aaS model provides real-time access to the latest security updates and new functionalities as soon as they’re available.

How Entrust Adaptive Issuance VMaaS works

With Entrust Adaptive Issuance Visitor Management as a Service, your front desk is everywhere, connected to the cloud, enabling streamlined experiences for visitors and hosts, and security for your facilities and personnel.

  • Prior to Check-In: The Entrust VMaaS solution allows visitors to pre-register via email on their mobile devices and receive a custom QR code to present during check-in, eliminating the need for long waits upon arrival.
  • Check In: Once visitors enter the facility, they scan the QR code or sign in manually using a touchscreen kiosk. The kiosk allows organizations to customize the user experience to their specific needs, including multiple languages, ID scanning, NDA signing, COVID-19 safety procedures, digital signatures and manual or automatic check-out.
  • Post-Check-In: Once checked in, visitors are instantly issued printed ID badges with personalization features including profile photos, expiration dates and times, and personalized information or logos. Additionally, hosts receive instant notifications via email or text allowing them to seamlessly and efficiently evaluate and monitor individuals entering and moving about offices.

Learn more about how Entrust Adaptive Issuance Visitor Management as a Service works.