Visitor Management: Innovative solutions in response to some of the biggest challenges around hospital security
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Gabrielle: Hello and welcome to a live video podcast brought to you by Parabit Systems. My name is Gabrielle and I'll be your host for today's episode. Today we're joined by Rob Leiponis, CEO of Parabit Systems, Kevin Whaley, Director of Safety and Security at the George Washington University Hospital, and Stephen Biscotti, Director of Safety and Security at Mount Sinai South Nassau Hospital. And in today's episode, we're going to be talking about what goes into modernizing healthcare security today. Thank you for joining and welcome. So let's go ahead and get started with a little introduction. If you can tell me a little bit about George Washington University Hospital and your role within it. Let's go ahead and start with Rob.
Rob Leiponis: Hi, my name is Rob Leiponis from Parabit Systems, we're the provider of visitor management solutions, especially kiosks hardware and software for both of our clients on the on the chat with us today.
Kevin Whaley: George Washington University Hospital is a hospital located in the nation's capital, Washington DC. It's a level one trauma center, we have 400 plus beds. It's a unique environment, we have an inpatient mental health unit and EDA that can see between two to 350 patients a day. So it's a pretty active environment inside of an urban, you know, Washington DC. So it has it's a, it's a unique place to work. From day to day, we see all kinds of different things here in the nation's capitol.
Gabrielle: I bet, thank you, and Steven.
Stephen Biscotti: Good afternoon, everybody. Stephen Biscotti, Director of Safety and Security at Mount Sinai, South Nassau in Oceanside, New York located in Long Island, we are a 455 bed hospital. We are at capacity on most days. And we have a visitor census of approximately 1,000 visitors per day, pre COVID. And we're running about 350 visitors per day post COVID.
Gabrielle: Wow, wonderful. So this next question is for Kevin and Steven, although Rob, feel free to jump in if you have something to add. From your respective positions as directors of safety and security, what do you think are some of the biggest challenges around hospital security in general, but also more specifically at GWU and South Nassau? Let's go ahead and start with Kevin.
Kevin Whaley: Yeah, so the challenges you have is healthcare security is unlike any other type of security, in that you're in an environment where folks are coming here, not because you're having a good day, you're not sitting home saying we want to do today, Oh, honey, your wife or husband wherever I go the hospital sit in emergency room for four and a half or eight hours and watch free cable TV, you know. You're here because you're sick, injured or hurt or someone you care about is sick, injured or hurt.
So that adds a level of tension and anxiety throughout the facility. You know, we've got folks that, you know, unfortunately, someone can pass, you know, every day and someone's born every day. And we deal with everything in between that. So trying to balance that challenge while trying to provide a safe and secure environment for all of our patients that and our visitors here at the hospital can be challenging, and trying to have that balance to demonstrate empathy, while also trying to keep everybody safe and trying to make sure that folks act appropriately, and so we can treat them to provide the highest level of health care services we can here at GW hospital.
Gabrielle: Absolutely. And Steven, what do you think some of the biggest challenges are around hospital security?
Stephen Biscotti: Well, I have to concur with Kevin, I think this is you know, it can be interchangeable of visitor management and workplace violence, you know, visitor management, where we have a very strict visitor policy in place where it's only two visitors per day, from 12 to 8. And as you can see what's happening around the world, especially here in the United States, especially in ER, workplace violence is on the rise. So we try to provide the highest level of safety and security to our patients and staff and visitors 365 days a year. And it's very, very challenging, believe me.
Gabrielle: Oh, I do believe you. There's plenty of challenges that go along with security. And, you know, with the presence of these challenges attached specifically to hospital security, you were able to come up with an innovative solution in response. So can you please speak a little to how you came up with the idea of implementing a visitor management system? And what exactly led you to the solution? Let's go ahead and start with Kevin.
Kevin Whaley: Yeah, so it's a unique story. So for me, it came to me when I'd been traveling for work a lot. Pre COVID, I'd been traveling a lot for work, and I was at the airport. And I just realized over time, the difference between, you know when you stand in line, and go up to the counter and there's like four or five people at the counter and you had five or six staff members back there checking you and checking your bags and wherever and how over the last several years, they transitioned to having kiosks. So you can have six or seven kiosks out there. And you have one person who stands there and can manage six or seven kiosks and direct folks and check them and so on and so forth. So that's kind of where the original idea came to me as far as looking at other options as far as kiosks were concerned. And then also for us, it was a matter of finding a ah, partners to say more than one partners, to, that were willing to work with us to take what our physical process was here at GW hospital of screening visitors coming in and checking them, which was the visitor comes in, we asked them who they're here to visit provide the patient's name, we verify that patient's name by printed out census, or in or in the computer and SMS, but then asked for a photo ID, we look at the photo ID, we then had to imprint their name on a little sign in sheet. And then we would issue a color wristband that was specific for that particular day, and then tell that visitor where they're going in the hospital that particular unit before they're going to.
So, trying to find a partner that was willing to take that manual process and put it into technology. We were fortunate enough to partner with Parabit and Stopware, through PassagePoint, to the actual VMS, sorry, visitor management system itself, the software, to develop from a thought to actually implementation to actually physically rolling it out here at GW hospital. So where we are able to actually verify a visitor to the patient by HL7 integrations that systems integration between the Parabit and our SMS software, so that in real time when a patient comes in and checks into kiosk or at the workstation, you type into visitors patients name that verifies a., is the patient here in the hospital, and b., can they receive visitors. And if they have to Steven's point earlier, we're at one visitor per patient per day, code protocols to say now as well to make sure they haven't had already had a visit for the day. So it's like I said, from going from a thought implementation and working with Rob and his team have been phenomenal to bring us integration. We're very, very excited about this.
Gabrielle: That's incredible. And Steven, what led you to the solution?
Stephen Biscotti: Well, almost similar to Kevin, my doctor's office, my dentist office, and my eye doctor all utilize kiosks. So I actually had the permission of the offices to take a picture of their systems and spoke with my leadership here and says why can't we bring visitor management into the hospital. And we do it we do have an open architectural design. We implemented kiosks at a multitude of entrances, our main entrance, our ambulatory entrance and our emergency room entrance. And the whole premise behind that was the Parabit Systems requires a either a New York state driver's license or a passport, it captures the photo, it also takes a picture, we were able to obtain the personal information of the individual, and we store it on our network. And we have a network that can store for infinity. So God forbid, we did have to go back and take a look at someone for whatever the issue may be, an unusual occurrence, etc. We have the ability of going back and locate an individual and have him already identified.
Gabrielle: Absolutely, and you know, keeping tabs as you described on visitor management, it's just such an important component of hospital security. And this solution you created is a great way to take care of that responsibility. And you know, that kind of leads us into our next question, which is, what is your philosophy on visitor management in the healthcare space? And a follow up to that? What do you think are the gaps and traditional hospital visitor management systems? Let's go ahead and start with Kevin.
Kevin Whaley: Yeah, so typically, what I noticed was I mentioned earlier about having been able to partner and finding Rob and finding our partners at Stopware was, there's, I want to say a dozen other visitor management systems out there that really aren't really visitor management. It's more like a visitor tracking sort of software because it doesn't have this technology to where you can integrate in HL7 integration so it's going to require your IT team within your hospital to work with PassagePoint and Parabit to develop the codes and all the directory, I'm not an IT guy, but that's how they did it. For working together to where you have that real confirmation of that a visitor is here to see an actual patient that's in your hospital versus the other systems where yes, they scan your ID yes, they take your picture. And yes, you put in the patient's name but they don't have that, that integration to go to verify that that patient is actually in your hospital. That patient can have a visitor for instance for us we have a special attention list. So we have visitors that as I said we're a level one trauma center. So I've got patients here that are victims of gunshots, violence, stabbings, domestic violence. I've got being here in Washington DC we have we call Hallo Protectee that can be anyone from a government official to a foreign dignitary could be here at the hospital seeking treatment or visiting a patient. So there's a level of visitor restrictions here at the hospital and to seize point my hospital here is not an open campus. It's a closed campus. So we control our entry points to the public to the ED entrance and our main entrance. So, having that true visitor management really makes a difference for us and to seize point earlier about being able to go back. We've been, after utilizing the system we've been able to not only go back and look at nefarious acts, for instance, patient who was an outpatient radiology stole the receptionist cell phone from the front desk and walk out the front door. So we have identified who that patient was getting name, ID, and so on and so forth, and we contacted law enforcement, all the information available for that.
Gabrielle: Awesome. And Steven, what is your philosophy on visitor management in the healthcare space?
Stephen Biscotti: So I have to concur with Kevin on all facets of what he just said. But it was vetting out the vendor, what was going to be the best fit for South Nassau and luckily for us, Parabit is only about a 20 minute drive away. So going with the local vendor was very, very important the HL licensing also attracted us to Parabit, which does create that integration that Kevin just spoke about, and implementing other hardware and software security applications. And of course, the denominator in this entire package is staffing. And we have a very high level of staffing. We only hire high level, high level, security professionals, retired law enforcement and veterans here at South Nassau.
Gabrielle: Absolutely. And do you have any actionable steps that hospitals and healthcare systems can take today to get just one step closer to modernizing their current security system, so they're up to date, Kevin?
Kevin Whaley: Ah, biggest recommendation I would recommend is working with your integrators. I think to Steve's point earlier, I'm not around the corner from Rob and Parabit, but his partners, Heather Glezen is one of the folks that works for Rob have been great partners with me, I got to go up to Parabit, they're located in Long Island, New York, I took the train to the Long Island express train for the first time in my life, that was an adventure, to say the least. But I got to go and go and meet with Rob and his team as engineers to literally discuss the fabrication and they've actually designed and fabricated the kiosks to meet our needs. And what I mean by that is that here at GW, we don't use what other systems may have a visitor sticker, as you see a lot of folks wearing the stickers on their clothes, we worked with Parabit to manufacture and design to Kiosks to be able to hold and maintain wristbands. So our when we're done checking in, it prints out a wristband on that wristband has the date, it has the patient's room, they're going to the bed and the floor number for that visitor, the biggest important thing as I said, there's that date there for us. So that when someone's coming back in the next day or something like that, we make sure that we give them an updated wristband by checking them back into the kiosk. That's where I look at it as far as system integration. The more systems you can integrate the two underneath each other, for instance, your video, your access control, and your visitor management. Underneath one umbrella, the more integrated they are, the better off you'll be and to be able to expand as well we've grown healthcare security, so ever changing. Nothing's set in stone in healthcare, you got to be able to flow and ebb with the changes in times and the environments that you have. So my recommendation would be to partner with a good integrate, find a good integrator if you can do and partner with them to work on any and all the challenges that we see every single day in healthcare.
Gabrielle: Absolutely. Those are some great steps to take. And Steven, do you have any actionable insights?
Stephen Biscotti: So again, I'm going to agree with everything that Kevin said, I think you really have to look from the outside of the box in look at what your architectural design is, I think we've partnered with a very good company in Parabit and, this is just the beginning. We need to implement more security control systems. We need to down the road, I think, you know, looking at best practices, rolled up competitive hospitals out there that are useful in the optical access control turnstiles, which just act as another layer, another barrier for visitor management for visitor control, trying to keep everybody on the up and up, trying to keep everybody happy, keeping the lines down and getting them through as quickly as possible. So, you do go to some hospitals. You know, we all visit hospitals and nobody wants to wait on the long lines like Disney has, and what happens people start getting upset. They become irate and they start venting on the wrong people, they're venting on the people that are looking to help themselves. So we're trying to look outside the box with a think tank to see how we could streamline that process, segregating the employees coming into the institution from a multitude of employee entrances and keeping the community coming into a main entrance. So taking all of that in into consideration, there's a lot of work that still needs to be done in the healthcare community. But I think, working collectively, like we do here in Long Island, with our other hospitals and our security director forum that we have here in Long Island, we do meet quarterly, and we discuss what's happening in the healthcare community and what's out there. And we do, and we do invite vendors in and see what they have, and what might be the best practice job, not just today, but for the future as well.
Gabrielle: Absolutely. And those are great steps to have now in the present and working towards the future towards hospital security. Rob, do you have anything to add here?
Rob Leiponis: Yeah, the just creating a, you know, a solution that improves workflows improves security validates credentials of people being able to validate that, you know, if someone is allowed into a space with for a certain amount of time, and then not allowing them in afterwards, as a second visitor, being able to do background checks on on people as they enter the facility and blocking out people from entering facilities that shouldn't be visiting patients within the hospital. And just eliminating contact points. I mean, so to me, visitor management is a is a much more efficient solution served as a kiosk solution than it is as a man guard solution, because it eliminates the interface of people handling credentials back and forth to a guard and to the people that are visiting the hospitals in this day and age, you really want to minimize how much contact that you have. You come into with people all of our kiosks are have antimicrobial touch points, protection on them. The newer kiosks that we're that we're fabricating have antimicrobial powder coating surfaces that we're implementing. So we're all about trying to constantly innovate what we create, work with our partners to address their specific needs, understand their work flows, and, and work with our partner with our partner Stopware to come up with the solutions that directly satisfy all of their work requirements. So that way they can minimize the cost and provide a safer environment for the hospital industry.
Gabrielle : Absolutely, and that constant innovation is what is keeping you guys so successful. And just ahead of the curve when it comes to hospital security. Well, just thank you so much for these actionable insights when it comes to modern modernizing healthcare, security and hospitals. And I want to ask, Do you have any last thoughts or points you'd like to share for the audience watching?
Rob Leiponis: I just think it's really important for you know, as Steve and Kevin had outlined that, you know, visitor management is one point. But integrating biometrics with, like Steven mentioned, with turnstiles with utilizing solutions that will work with fingerprint scanning or facial recognition, so that way visitors can be pre screened before they enter a facility. So there's even more of a of a of a better security measure to, to minimize, you know, any threats that may that potentially could come into the hospital, automate the in the workflows to make it less expensive to operate their hospitals and provide us a safer environment, I think is extremely important. You know, improving security, surveillance measures throughout the facility, to protect the staff, as well as the patients I think is imperative in these days and times. Unfortunately, as we all are experiencing, unfortunately, the world is increasingly and rapidly becoming an unsafer place. So we're constantly needing to stay on the edge and develop technologies to protect, you know, the patients, the visitors and the employees of the hospital industry.
Gabrielle: Absolutely, well thank you for that. And well, that's all we have for today's content. So just a big thank you to Kevin, Steven and Rob for joining us today. And speaking to how we can Modernize Healthcare security solutions. If you want to check out more content from Parabit Systems. Look for this podcast on Spotify, Apple Music or wherever it is you get your podcast set. Thanks again for joining us. Thank you.