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It may be the endgame for old-fashioned logbooks as more schools and hospitals consider improving security with visitor management systems, and other modern, integrated solutions.
Education and healthcare administrators face similar challenges as they wrestle with growing security threats. They typically operate multiple locations, all with high visitor traffic. Some facilities sign in visitors manually, while others enter names into a computer. But modern electronic visitor management systems can take the process to a whole new level, offering advanced screening features, automation and system integration designed to save time and money – and keep people safe.
What are Modern Visitor Management Systems?
While nothing beats the warm, welcoming smile of a receptionist, modern visitor management systems offer a more sophisticated way to track people entering and leaving a building. Using advanced software, you can screen visitors to flag and address potential threats. You can even track a person’s movement from one facility to another on the same campus.
While features vary by manufacturer, electronic visitor management systems allow you to:
- Scan a visitor’s driver’s license or other government-issued identification and cross-reference it with sex offender and other customized databases
- Capture a visitor’s image as the person checks in
- Collect electronic signatures
- Integrate visitor management with other security and non-security systems
- Make use of scalability and multi-site capabilities
- Use unmanned visitor check-in kiosks to simplify screening
- Generate visitor reports quickly and easily
How Do Visitor Management Systems Work in Schools?
School districts across the country are investing in physical security upgrades thanks in part to the 2018 Students, Teachers and Officers Preventing (STOP) School Violence Act. As part of this legislation, the Department of Justice allocated more than $70 million in grant funding to boost school security, train students and faculty, and support law enforcement and first responders.
Many districts have opted to use visitor management systems as an effective way to screen and monitor visitors. At school districts in Maryland, Nebraska and California, for example, visitors use one main entrance and must present a photo ID, typically a driver’s license. A school employee scans the license, which is cross-referenced with sex offender and other public databases. The schools also have the option to create their own custom databases to screen for restraining orders, custody issues, disgruntled former employees and other threats.
If the visitor passes the screening, the school employee issues a visitor badge with the date and purpose of the visit. If the screening flags an issue, a mass notification system can quickly alert administrators and local law enforcement.
What Visitor Management Issues Do Hospitals Face?
Hospitals encounter a number of security threats and challenges, most notably:
- Verbal abuse
- Physical assaults
- Drug and supply theft
- Patient protection
Healthcare security professionals are constantly challenged to protect busy environments without interfering with patient care.
Studies show that patients recover faster when they are allowed to spend more hospital time in the company of family and loved ones. In response, many healthcare facilities have relaxed limitations on visiting hours to improve patient satisfaction.
However, this puts added pressure on security professionals to balance broader access with the ability to track visitors and keep patients safe. Hospitals must also comply with Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) patient privacy rules and other industry regulations.
How can they enforce visitor management protocols, maintain access control systems and stay in compliance with federal and industry regulations?
The answer for many healthcare facilities may be to abandon outdated, siloed systems in favor of fully integrated physical identity and access management (PIAM) solutions. A PIAM system integrates visitor management with IT, HR and security systems (employee badge readers, video surveillance, etc.). By linking these components, hospitals can automate processes under a central system, manage complex visitor and employee access, and adhere to healthcare regulations.