The Difference of Tracking Occupants and Visitors in Healthcare

Access control manufacturers discuss the difference and importance of tracking people in healthcare facilities.

By Jeff Wardon, Jr., Assistant Editor

Healthcare facilities are home to many important people and assets, so securing them is a must. Part of this is done through tracking visitors and occupants within a facility. In this manufacturer roundtable, Healthcare Facilities Today speaks to access control manufacturers about the importance of monitoring occupants and visitors in healthcare versus other facilities. 

Why is it more important to keep track of visitors and occupants in a healthcare facility compared to other buildings? 

“Managing access and keeping track of visitors and occupants is so important in a healthcare facility because it adds to a sense of safety and security that leads to positive outcomes for treatment and recovery and enhances the patient experience. 

In any healthcare environment, the number one priority is the health and safety of the patient. Intelligent access control solutions allow you to focus on what really matters by providing the accountability, convenience and security needed for your hospital or healthcare facility to run smoothly. 

Tailoring the access control solution to the needs of each opening in a healthcare facility provides many benefits. In addition to improving access to key areas of the facility, it can help ensure compliance with federal and local statutes and regulations, boost patient satisfaction, improve efficiency and reduce the costs of administration, operation, compliance and loss of diverted equipment and supplies.” 

— Thomas Morgan, director of business development for healthcare, ASSA ABLOY Door Security Solutions 

“Healthcare facilities face a unique set of challenges. At the heart of a healthcare facility's mission is the safeguarding of its patients—individuals who, by virtue of their health conditions, are inherently more vulnerable.  

Unlike commercial buildings where the primary concerns might be property theft or unauthorized entry, a hospital or clinic contends with the potential spread of infections. Healthcare facilities must manage the risk of infections spreading, and knowing who is in the building, where they have been, and their contact with patients or staff can help control and prevent the spread of infectious diseases. 

Another consideration is the regulatory landscape that healthcare facilities navigate is fraught with stringent requirements, like those mandated by HIPAA, which are designed to uphold patient privacy and confidentiality. A breach here is not just a security failure but a legal liability, with consequences that can ripple out to erode patient trust and tarnish the institution's reputation. 

Asset protection is another issue healthcare facilities must consider. The term 'asset' in a healthcare context extends beyond the monetary value of medical equipment and supplies to things like medications and controlled substances.” 

— Kyle Pfeiffer, industry solutions leader – healthcare, SALTO Systems 

“Healthcare facilities are faced with an incredibly unique security challenge compared to other types of buildings. They are typically in use 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and are occupied by a wide variety of users, including employees, patients, visitors and contractors. These facilities often contain volatile and biohazardous materials, biological labs, pharmacies, and sensitive, protected health information, all of which must remain secure. It is imperative that security staff at healthcare facilities can identify and track everyone in the building. While restricting access to limited areas of the facility can minimize potential threats, a well-suited access control solution is in place to facilitate access across the range of user-types, enabling access appropriately.” 

— Doug Coppola, senior director of healthcare solutions, North America, LenelS2 

“The healthcare environment presents some unique challenges that make access control even more critical: 

  • Patient or personnel safety: A targeted patient may be in a compromised state making them more vulnerable. Facility staff that are targeted are threatened as well, because they are working in a publicly known location regularly. Having access to information about who is currently inside the facility and not allowed in the facility is critical in ensuring the safety of both patients and staff. 
  • Infection control: Healthcare facilities may contain dangerous pathogens that can be spread to the general population. Controlling who can enter a facility or designating restricted areas allows the control of potential transporters of disease. It also allows for contact tracing in the case of a super-spreader event.” 

— Brian Ha, product manager, STANLEY Access Technologies 

Jeff Wardon, Jr. is the assistant editor for the facilities market. 

November 30, 2023

Topic Area: Security

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