The importance of visitor management in hospitals and healthcare facilities


By Stephen Darracott, Vice President and Country Manager, Pitney Bowes Japan, Australia and New Zealand
Thursday, 20 May, 2021


The importance of visitor management in hospitals and healthcare facilities

In the past 12 months, Australians have become intimately familiar with lockdown restrictions impacting on visitors in healthcare facilities. While visitor management has always been a critical safety consideration to keep patients and staff safe, COVID-19 heightened the need for a simple yet secure way of managing visitors and contractors in the healthcare sector.

There are more than 1300 public and private hospitals across Australia that provide upwards of 30.9 million days of patient care each year, and public hospital outpatient clinics that deliver more than 39 million patient services.1 There are also more than 391,000 full-time staff members employed at public hospitals across the country, and nearly 70,000 full-time staff in private hospitals.2 With so many people attending hospital and healthcare facilities each day — including patients, visitors, full-time, part-time and casual staff, and even medical specialists from other facilities — there’s an extraordinary amount of foot traffic to be managed and recorded.

Healthcare facilities must invest in visitor management technology to meet the increasing requirements to better manage visitor information for staff and patient safety. This is essential to ensure health, safety and facility security, as it can provide a clear overview of visitors onsite at any given time. Investing in digital visitor management solutions lets healthcare facilities elevate facility safety and compliance while simultaneously reducing overheads and administration costs.

If there is a security breach or emergency, facilities can use digital visitor management solutions to instantly report who is onsite at the time. This is also essential for COVID-19 contact tracing. A good digital system incorporates safety and security inductions to ensure all visitors are aware of emergency procedures.

In terms of visitor restrictions, a cloud-based solution lets healthcare providers accurately account for everyone onsite and prevent unauthorised persons. This was important at the peak of the pandemic and remains key in case contact tracing is required. Digital systems let hospitals and healthcare facilities capture and record relevant information about visitors or contractors, storing this in real time in a secure database. To comply with restrictions, some facilities may require visitors to provide relevant information — such as practitioner details, for example — to help guarantee that only authorised persons are registered onsite.

Although COVID-19 vaccinations are being rolled out, travellers are still returning from overseas with varying strands of the coronavirus, some of which are highly transmittable. Recent events have demonstrated how easily the virus can spread within the community, even when travellers go into hotel quarantine immediately. Similarly, as Australia heads into its 2021 flu season, keeping a close eye on potentially infectious persons can help to minimise the spread of contagions. Some of the latest digital visitor management systems incorporate features such as infrared temperature scanning, which lets healthcare facilities quickly check visitors’ temperatures and notify staff if an elevated temperature is detected.

This is essential for COVID-19 restriction compliance and is a critical safety measure to protect both essential healthcare workers and vulnerable patients. Digitising these processes and offering contactless QR-code check-in removes the need to have dedicated staff available to sign in visitors and take their temperature.

While COVID-19 is currently under control in Australia, we must remain vigilant, especially as we’re heading into flu season and colder winter months. Managing visitors and contractors in healthcare facilities will continue to be high on the agenda into the future as a way to keep staff, patients and the community safe. Investing in digital visitor management systems will help hospitals and healthcare facilities protect the health and safety of staff and patients by incorporating the most up-to-date processes and procedures.

References
  1. https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/hospitals/australias-hospitals-at-a-glance-2018-19/summary
  2. https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports-data/myhospitals/themes/hospital-workforce

Image credit: ©stock.adobe.com/au/Monkey Business

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