7 visitor policy basics to help keep your hospital secure
by Paul Kazlauskas
Hospital staff members are devoted to providing safe, high quality, compassionate care. That compassion and concern for the well-being of their patients extends to visitors. Visits by relatives and friends are encouraged to make any patient’s stay more enjoyable, but hospitals must also have policies in place for keeping the healthcare facility secure. See our list below of seven visitor policy basics to help keep a hospital secure.
1. Document visitor traffic using visitor management software.
Visitor management software (VMS) is an electronic version of the visitor sign-in sheet (or visitor log book) that has been used in facilities for years and is being implemented more frequently in the healthcare world. While more expensive than a traditional log book, VMS offers a more efficient and full-proof sign-in process. It is the most secure way to sign in visitors that come to your hospital and a very affordable way to improve the visitor management and security of your building(s). Visitor management software allows you to:
- Know who is in the building at any day/time.
- Provide a standard way to register visitors.
- Print professional-looking visitor badges that include critical information.
- Improve your hospital’s bottom line.
2. Choose how to identify visitors.
The electronic visitor management system mentioned above will provide your guests with a visitor badge to clearly identify them as such. Some visitor badges change color overnight to prevent reuse. These special visitor badges provide a visual alert to the security staff or employees that a person’s presence should be questioned. If your visitor doesn’t want to use the adhesive badge directly on their clothing, badge tags can be utilized in conjunction with a badge clip. Badge tags are laminated holders for the adhesive badge (some are even reusable).
3. Identify various kinds of visitors in a specific way.
Different kinds of visitors have different access to certain areas of the building and therefore may require different treatment and identification. Clearly identifying the type of visitor will allow anyone encountering that person to know if they are allowed to be in the area. Family, vendors, contractors, temporary workers, volunteers, and interns are all categories to consider, and it’s easy to label visitors as such.
4. Communicate visitor policy content on your website.
A hospital website is the perfect place to communicate your visitor policy to the public. Such messages include:
- Visitor responsibilities – This includes everything from not visiting patients when the visitor doesn’t feel well to allowing hospital staff to do their jobs when a visitor is present in the room. See our list “How to visit someone in the hospital - 15 tips from nurses who know”.
- Directions for getting to the facility
- Where to park
- What entrance to use
- Regular visiting hours and after-hours policies
- In-facility cell phone policy
- How to reach a patient
- Special restrictions of certain departments
5. Make sure visitors are directed where to go.
Hospital visitors should be welcomed as long as their reason for being there is legitimate. Upon entering the facility and getting registered by the visitor management system, the visitor should be directed to the area/people that they are there to see.
6. Train your staff about the office visitor policy/procedure.
Once you’ve created a hospital-wide visitor policy, it is imperative to train your staff. Training and periodic drills will ensure your security staff and other employees are familiar with and confident in the security policies in place. This training includes a clear set of guidelines that covers how employees are supposed to act. Topics include everything from what to do if they see an undocumented visitor to what to do if they see a fellow employee violating a procedure.
7. Make visitors feel welcomed.
A lot of effort and planning goes into a security plan for what to do with individuals when they arrive on-site, but what about from the visitor’s point of view? Are visitor’s needs being addressed? Here are some ways to improve the experience of visitors when they come to your hospital and to answer their questions about what to do once they arrive:
- Create an inviting lobby with comfortable chairs, refreshments, and up-to-date reading materials for any wait time.
- Follow up after your visit to see if there are any areas of improvement for their visitor experience.
What additional security components and other ideas should be considered when developing a hospital visitor policy? Please join the conversation by adding your thoughts in the “Comments” section below.
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Posted on 10/25/2018