How Visitor Management Strengthens Your Safety Toolkit

A nurse attacked and knocked unconscious is a jarring image, yet such incidents are not isolated. Acts of violence against healthcare workers have been on the rise for the past decade, with pandemic stressors acting as accelerators. As a result, healthcare facilities must prepare to curb violence to the extent possible with a new sense of urgency.

Healthcare staff experience the highest rates of injuries caused by workplace violence—five times higher than other industries—according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Moreover, according to the American Hospital Association (AHA), 44% of nurses reported experiencing physical violence and 68% reported experiencing verbal abuse during the pandemic.

A strong visitor management platform monitors who visitors are, whom they are visiting, when they are on site, and which areas of a facility they are authorized to enter.

Grief, confusion, misinformation, mental health disorders, and frustration due to insufficient resources to take care of patients are all contributing factors behind the rise in violence. Regardless of motivation, however, with incidents of aggression rising, concern for safety and calls to accurately track incidents are at an all-time high. While there’s support for legislation to increase penalties and criminalize assault and intimidation of healthcare workers, it remains individual hospitals’ responsibility to keep their populations safe.

Evaluations of the impact of workplace violence have shown that the consequences are not finite. Physical and psychological trauma are accompanied by a strain on patient care due to fear, distraction, and burnout. The ultimate deterioration of morale throughout the entire healthcare system is only intensified when resources continually fail to match the growing demand. When violence occurs, the safety of a facility is immediately called into question, resulting in potentially long-lasting reputational impacts on the organization, and the list unfortunately does not stop there.

While it is clear we cannot accept such violence as commonplace, no single approach has proven to be sufficient in addressing the complex reality of violence in healthcare organizations. Healthcare facilities must find solutions that make a real difference in keeping their staff safe. At its core, workplace safety in healthcare should support the delivery of care. Enhanced training, thoughtful processes, upgraded technology, and strong policies—for instance, enforced restrictions on where visitors can go—are all on the table for evaluation to help support a safer environment. However, it’s a delicate balance to maintain compliance while staying sensitive to patients’ needs.

The conversation surrounding safety, compliance,
and risk management cannot be had
without discussing visitor management.

The conversation surrounding safety, compliance, and risk management cannot be had without discussing visitor management. Particularly for non-acute facilities, visitors represent a significant population in need of access management. But, to manage access while meeting growing security demands, facilities require tools and processes that are flexible, reliable, and dynamic. These measures must accommodate individual facility and unique environmental needs—including everything from infectious diseases, crime, and emergency situations, to capacity fluctuations, vendor recognition, and other factors. A facility's ability to quickly pull relevant reports, assess who’s on site at any time, and demonstrate compliance through on-demand analytics is critical for navigating safety risks with agility and accuracy.

A strong visitor management platform monitors who visitors are, whom they are visiting, when they are on site, and which areas of a facility they are authorized to enter. By quickly capturing relevant data, including the individual’s identification, photo, etc., advanced technology can create systems to address visitor management challenges and provide a more secure, compliant environment for all. By increasing the visibility of visitors entering and leaving a facility, healthcare organizations can provide a safe, welcoming, and compliant experience for visitors, staff, and patients. After all, the cornerstone of any effective visitor management strategy is bringing patients and their loved ones together safely.

Visitor management puts safety first

Without an automated visitor solution in place, facilities won’t be able to enforce visitor limitations at specific times or pivot effectively in crisis situations. With a software solution, limiting specific visitors, controlling visitor volume by department, and restricting visitor access during certain time periods emergency response is streamlined. This is particularly critical in times of crisis, so that if a building must be evacuated, the system can be used to determine the location of visitors, or if an act of violence occurs, compliance can be tracked to take quick, accurate corrective action supporting thorough safety incident management.

Visitor activity can be cross-referenced with vendor data 

When your visitor management system is integrated with your vendor management system, you can clearly view and monitor all on-site visitor activity and mitigate the risk associated with the chance of vendor representatives entering a facility without the proper authorizations. This elevates compliance to meet auditing requirements, decreases financial and safety risk, and helps catch breaches before they happen.

Visitor policies and data are centrally defined, managed, and accessible 

For data to be actionable, it must be centralized and easily accessed. A facility’s policies and processes for visitor access should be defined, documented, and automated during visitation to ensure visits comply with the organization’s policies and regulations. For administrators, this allows processes to be updated quickly based on evolving policies. Additionally, producing reports demonstrating who is currently on site as well as historical information about previous visits can be done in seconds, ensuring streamlined reporting that is actionable for policy management and ongoing best practices surrounding safety initiatives.

Ultimately, no single strategy can cover the diverse and complex safety needs of healthcare facilities. However, a critical lever in a facility’s safety toolkit, effective visitor management protects security while minimizing risk for visitors, patients, staff, and other stakeholders in the facility’s ecosystem. Learn more about how a flexible and automated approach to visitor management can protect against safety risk.

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