For generations of healthcare professionals it’s been the same routine. Enter an MRI room and off comes everything metallic, including the badge reel holding ID cards, badges and other credentials – many of which are required to be worn by law or company policy. The magnet rooms are a ferrous-metals-free zone.
Like most heavily regulated bodies, the healthcare industry is full of important acronyms.
Many of these acronyms are terms most people will be familiar with, like HIPAA, RN, CNA and HMO. Those are healthcare acronyms the majority of people have encountered at one point or another.
However, one of the more important healthcare acronyms is one that the average patient or hospital visitor has probably never heard before:
If you're thinking "what the heck is that?", you're not alone.
Unless you work for a hospital in some sort of administrative, IT or security capacity, chances are you've never encountered the term.
However, HL7 is something that is key to nearly every healthcare facility, and plays a particularly important role in healthcare Visitor Management.
What is HL7?
Take a second to picture a stereotypical Visitor Management installation. The kind of system doesn't really matter — it could be a software system, a log book or even just a package of expiring visitor badges on a desk.
Now...where in this imaginary facility is the installation located?
If you're like most people, you picture a Visitor Management system sitting in the lobby of a building, whether it's the ground floor of a multi-tenant office building or the entryway of a school.
Hospitals aren't much different: if you picture a hospital Visitor Management system in your mind, you're probably going to see it in the lobby.
It makes sense: hospitals are extremely busy places, oftentimes bordering on chaotic. This makes guest management key, and the first place that guests visit is usually the lobby.
However, many hospitals find putting Visitor Management systems in their main lobby to be an overwhelming task, as there are so many moving parts and factors to consider.
This can lead organizations to put off installing a Visitor Management system entirely, opting to postpone the expense and stress until they're better equipped to handle it.
But procrastination like this leaves a facility vulnerable and ignores a big detail that many hospitals overlook: there are several other "smaller" places where a hospital can effectively install a Visitor Management system.
Visitor Management doesn't need to be limited to the lobby
We've spent a lot of time in this blog talking about why Visitor Management is important for sites of all kinds.
While the specifics may vary depending on the industry, the basis of every Visitor Management system is the desire to keep a site and its personnel safe from harm.
This desire applies to all kinds of worksites, from hospitals to factories and everything in between.
However, it's not a stretch to say that Visitor Management is a little more important for overall safety and security in a few industries. Healthcare is one of those industries.
We recently discussed calls for increased safety at healthcare facilities and how a good Visitor Management system goes a long way toward achieving that goal of increased safety.
You may be wondering, "what makes healthcare so different? Isn't building safety basically the same everywhere?"
While it's true that there are common threads between site safety at all kinds of workplaces, there are unique aspects of healthcare facilities that make the need for hospital Visitor Management a little more pressing.
The unique safety challenges hospitals face
It has become a predictable pattern: each time a new survey on violence in healthcare facilities is released, the numbers paint an increasingly alarming picture of the daily dangers faced by doctors, nurses and other staff members.
Unfortunately, the latest survey to come out is no different, and this one should raise eyebrows among the hospital security community.
This recent survey was conducted by the American College of Emergency Physicians, also known as the ACEP. The ACEP is a leading advocacy group for emergency physicians and the patients they serve, so it makes sense that those emergency physicians were the ones responding to the survey.
The results gathered from the survey of more than 3,500 medical professionals do not paint a rosy picture of the healthcare safety and security space.
Nearly half of respondents reported being assaulted on the job
Modern healthcare facilities are busy places.
Each facility has dozens of different staff members, from doctors and nurses to technicians and maintenance staff, on-site at any given time.
It's no surprise, of course, that healthcare is one of the most heavily regulated industries when it comes to identification programs and visitor policies.
With that in mind, a post on how a hospital or clinic needs good ID cards would be preaching to the choir: if you're a healthcare facility with no identification program, chances are the government has already come calling for you.
Instead, we wanted to point out ways to make your ID program better: by using Badge Buddies!
Those in the healthcare industry are probably at least somewhat familiar with Badge Buddies, even if they aren't known by name.
"Those things with the letters that go behind our ID badges," you say.
Yup! Those are them. And while Badge Buddies are perfect for simple, effective role recognition, they can also be used to do so much more.
How can Badge Buddies make your healthcare ID program better?
When you see the headline, it feels like a bad case of déjà vu. Unfortunately, it's reality: violent incidents have put hospital security practices back in the news.
Last week, a psychiatric patient attempted to strangle a nurse at Montreal General hospital in Montreal, Quebec.
According to the Montreal Gazette, a 25-year-old patient attacked a nurse during the night shift, choking her with his bare hands and throwing her to the floor.
Thankfully, the attack was stopped by a staff member who, by chance, walked by the nurse's station, saw the commotion and stepped in.
The narratives that emerged after the incident were pretty familiar: the nurses and doctors blamed the administration for insufficient staffing, the administration blamed the security providers, the security providers blamed the administration.
Remarkably, that wasn't the only recent incident north of the border: a mental-health patient stabbed a fellow patient at an Ontario hospital back in late August.
There are similar themes in all of these incidents: budgets were cut and decisions were made without taking security into consideration.
Safety, not budget, should be the real bottom line
In healthcare, identification is key. Having proper identification helps patients feel more at ease, allowing them to know the name and title of the person providing care.
Many states require ID badges to be worn at all times, and most individual healthcare organizations have some kind of ID badge policy in place.
When wearing an ID badge, the badge must be facing front at all times, or else it's pretty much just an employee wearing a white card.
Don't display card backs! You can keep your ID badge facing front using the same method currently employed by many healthcare facilities around the country: by using the twist-free B-Reel badge reel.
See how the B-Reel keeps your ID card facing front at all times
Spend some time talking to doctors, nurses and other healthcare personnel about issues of safety and security at today's hospitals and medical centers.
In all likelihood, you'll walk away from the conversation with an unsettling conclusion: the situation is far from under control, and is actually getting worse.
Pundits and industry experts have a number of different theories on why there's been such an increase in these violent incidents.
Some say it's due to an increase in the number of patients with mental health issues using standard facilities or due to tightened budgets leading to less money to spend on security.
Others think the incidents have always been occurring, and that an increased focus on security in today's "breaking news" social media climate has only served as a way to bring them to light.
Whatever the impetus for the increase may be, there's no denying that the increase is real. Recent polls have confirmed that, with some sobering statistics.
68% of one area's healthcare workers said what?
Unfortunately, it's a frightening reality: violent incidents are occurring at healthcare facilities with an increasing degree of frequency.
While most hospitals and medical centers took an interest in security in the past, today's climate has made a stronger focus on security an essential part of any healthcare facility.
There's only one problem: adding a comprehensive security system to a hospital can be an overwhelming undertaking due to the number of things that need to be taken into consideration.
Making a healthcare facility more secure is a lot more complex than, say, securing a small office building.
At the office building, adding a security guard to the front desk and some locks to the doors should be enough, as most offices aren't dealing with dangerous/controlled substances and there won't be many visitors coming and going.
It's a very different story at a hospital, however.
On the average day, visitors come to see patients, pharmaceutical representatives visit doctors and there's staff changeover with interns coming and going or physicians visiting from other hospitals.
It gets chaotic pretty quickly. So how do you cut through the noise and find that perfect, effective hospital security plan?
Focus on three distinct areas