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The Hospital Dilemma: Balancing Security & A Welcoming Atmosphere

Posted by Dan Ryan on Aug 11, 2017 1:00:00 PM

healthcare visitor management system.jpg

On the surface, it seems like the ultimate contradiction: you want to welcome guests and make it easy for them to visit while also having security measures, like a Visitor management system, in place that are strict enough to keep your facility safe.

It seems impossible, like you're asking to go swimming without getting wet. Some things simply don't go together.

This is the safety dilemma faced by many large organizations on a daily basis, but one industry finds this to be a particularly vexing problem: healthcare.

Running a successful hospital comes with a long list of requirements, among them two that directly clash: welcoming guests and patients while also keeping security tight.

As we've discussed before, hospitals are, unfortunately, fertile grounds for violent incidents.

Whether it's a disgruntled spouse, a former patient holding a grudge or a family member blaming a doctor for the death of a loved one, hospitals are filled with a powder keg of emotion on a daily basis.

With an environment that is so emotionally charged, it would make sense to strictly limit the number of people allowed on site; however, a facility that discourages guests is a facility that isn't going to have much success.

The solution is clear: hospitals must find the happy medium between security and easy visitor access.

But how?

Security and welcoming guests don't need to be mutually exclusive

Welcoming guests at a hospital is a tough task to begin with. Few people want to be visiting someone in the hospital, with the exception of those visiting the maternity ward. Guests are already anxious, and many are in a hurry to get inside and visit their loved ones.

This sense of urgency only deepens the divide between security and convenience: you want to get the guests in as soon as possible, but can't just let anyone waltz in off the street.

The key to a happy marriage between convenience for visitors and security for your facility is to soften your approach: make it so it's a little less cold or distant, and is instead softer around the edges.

Here are a few tips:

1. Set up your Visitor Management system as a resource for the guests, not a burden.

As someone on the inside, you know what your Visitor Management system is supposed to do: it's supposed to keep out unwanted guests and keep track of who's at your facility.

It's an obvious security device to you, but to your guests, it might look like a mean, corporate obstacle between them and their loved one.

What your guests experience at your front desk or entryway will go a long way toward shaping their view of your facility. Do you want to appear serious and somber or helpful and friendly?

Ways to make your sign-in system a resource for your guests include:

  • Offering to guide them to the floor or wing where the loved one they're visiting is located
  • Asking them if they have any questions about the facility while they're signing in
  • Presenting them with a bottle of water, a tissue or another small gesture

What you want is for your guest's sign-in experience to not feel like a sign-in experience at all. Instead, you want it to feel like you're welcoming them, helping them out and sending them on their way.

They don't feel hassled and your Visitor Management system gets the information it needs. It's a win-win.

2. Put your best people right out front.

Too often, hospitals (and other security-conscious buildings) put their biggest and burliest security associates right out front. 

woman signing in at a hospital visitor management installation.jpgIn some ways, it makes sense: your toughest guards are going to be the best at intimidating those with bad intentions, thereby keeping them from even attempting to cause any trouble at your facility.

However, the main goal at a hospital shouldn't be to intimidate; after all, many of your guests are already feeling overwhelmed, nervous or anxious.

One of the simplest ways to "soften" your sign-in procedures is to staff your front desk with friendly, warm personnel. It may seem kind of corny, but when your guests sign-in, you want them to feel welcome, not afraid.

For the sake of security, it's obviously still important that these associates be trained in how to use your sign-in or security system, and it's never a bad idea to still have your "muscle" nearby in case of an incident.

But combining your visitor badges with a warm smile instead of an icy glare goes a long way toward changing the entire visitor experience for the better.

3. Streamline, eliminating unnecessary steps whenever possible.

The main goal of improving your hospital Visitor Management system is to make things easy without making things too easy.

Confused? OK, let's try again: you want to make things seamless and simple for the guests without making it so simple that anyone can just walk in the front door.

One of the best ways to do this is to streamline your Visitor Management processes, eliminating any unnecessary steps

One of the last things you want is for your visitors to see your sign-in system as a complete waste of time. It leaves them with a negative impression of your facility and starts their visit off on the wrong foot.

Having a number of superfluous steps is the easiest way to make your sign-in system seem like a waste.

Do you really need the guest's email address, or is it just a bonus? Would just the name of their city of residence suffice, instead of a full address?

Making small tweaks like that may seem like they only save a few seconds, but for your guests, it could be the difference between "that was easy" and "that was annoying."


Healthcare Visitor Management can be a lot to absorb, and choosing a system isn't something you want to do without being fully informed.

If you have questions about specific Visitor Management systems or would like to discuss issues unique to your site, reach out to a member of our team for a no-obligation email consultation.

We're here to help >>

Topics: Visitor Management, healthcare, healthcare Visitor Management, building security, healthcare security

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