The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic has heightened alert for hospitals. It has become extremely risky for people who closely work with or in this industry to go about their usual routines. Hospitals have to take on new and stricter precautions to minimise these health risks.
Patients and visitors have to go through additional safety procedures to enter the hospital. On the other hand, hospital receptionists or administrative assistants have an increased workload to manage these safety procedures.
With entry into hospitals becoming complex, it will be critical to optimise the process to create a better service environment. This is exactly what a hospital check-in system can provide.
What is it?
A hospital check-in system is a solution to automate entry when patients, visitors, or employees arrive at the facility. They replace logbooks and records by allowing users to self-register.
The hospital check-in system can come in various forms, such as a QR code, an application, a tablet, or a kiosk. This also means that some are purely software, while others are a combination of software and hardware.
Depending on the needs of the hospital, the management team can sift and select the most suitable system for themselves. Here is a quick run through of the different forms:
QR codes are the simplest type of check-in systems. Anyone with a QR code reader on their smartphones can scan the code to enter a regulated website for sign-ins. Hospitals will only need to display these QR codes at the entrances.
Typically, users will have to submit their personal details like their name, contact number, and identification number. Some might include additional steps like health declaration.
A slightly more troublesome form is the application for check-ins as it might only be specific to certain facilities or organisations. Users will have to download and keep the application on their smartphones.
Check-in procedures will be similar to that of the QR code but it can include additional requirements like submission of vaccination evidence. Users can then utilise their phone camera to upload the evidence into the application.
Aside from the contactless forms, check-ins using tablets and kiosks are available. These devices are more customised toward the hospitals and include more complex functions.
They can be integrated with temperature taking devices, scanners, and printers to meet the various requirements of hospital check-ins.
What do they do?
In order to meet the demands of the pandemic era, the hospital check-in system has further evolved to help organisations stay compliant with the ever-changing government regulations.
Not only does it capture arrival information of patients, visitors, and employees. It now includes customisable functions like temperature screening, vaccination management, and health declarations. Additional features like badge-printing, provision of state-mandated QR codes, and queue ticketing are also available.
Only those who have successfully completed and passed each and every step are allowed to enter the hospital.
Tracking of footfall
The hospital check-in system is able to track, monitor, and record footfall at various facilities. Along with personal details collected, these data are able to effectively aid in government contact-tracing.
Tracking of footfall also gathers various insights on visitorship and crowd trends. For example, the average number of people in each vicinity and the time period with the greatest number of people at the hospital.
With this information, the hospital can decide whether to implement capacity limits for each vicinity to ensure safe distancing and minimise overcrowding. The system further supports such operational needs by allowing the management to set and adjust the parameters for check-ins. For instance, the number of visitors allowed per site and per hour.
The hospital can also better allocate resources and manpower for different days of the week and even for different times of the day, depending on trends and peak periods. Nurse rostering can also be conducted more efficiently.
There are multiple ways to conduct temperature checks. Hospitals can situate a receptionist or administrative assistant with infrared thermometer guns, place a self-service infrared thermometer stand, or utilise a kiosk that integrates the hospital check-in system.
Obviously, the integrated check-in kiosk will be the most efficient and effective method. It incorporates temperature taking into one of its sign-in steps, automatically verifying if the temperature is within the safe range.
The system makes use of a thermal face scanner to identify the users’ temperatures. The scanner then checks whether the temperatures are below 37.0ºC or 37.5ºC (depending on the government regulations).
Thereafter, the system automatically records the information, without the need for users to manually enter their temperatures. Those who are not within the safe range will be required to retake their temperature or seek immediate medical attention.
A few states and hospitals have made it compulsory for visitors to have a valid vaccination status in order to enter their facilities. As for healthcare employees, it is compulsory for most of them to be vaccinated in order to return to work. With a large number of visitors and employees entering the hospitals, we need to ensure each and every one of them is vaccinated through vaccination management.
The hospital check-in system integrates vaccination management, requiring visitors and employees to upload their vaccination evidence for verification. They simply need to take a picture of the vaccination evidence using the check-in kiosk and wait for approval.
The system stores the information securely and does not require reuploads for future visits. If visitors and employees do not wish for their vaccination evidence to be stored, they can opt for manual approval by the receptionist or administrative assistant.
Making sure that people who enter the hospital are free from the COVID-19 virus is crucial. This is because hospitals have the duty to protect the health of people at the facilities. They should minimise health threats to vulnerable patients, visitors, and employees.
The hospital check-in system can deter a proportion of these high-risk persons just by asking a few screening questions. Some of these questions include:
- Have you been overseas, on a cruise ship, or to any COVID-19 hotspots in the past 14 days?
- Have you been in contact with a confirmed or suspected case of COVID-19 in the past 14 days?
- Are you close in contact with or caring for someone who is currently unwell?
- Do you have any COVID-19 symptoms such as a fever, symptoms of acute respiratory infection (shortness of breath, cough or sore throat), or loss of smell or taste?
- Are you awaiting a COVID-19 test result?
If patients, visitors, or employees are found to be potential virus carriers, they will need to be isolated. For those exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms, they will have to seek immediate treatment. These procedures will also depend on the standard operating procedures set by each hospital.
For tablet and kiosk systems, the badge-printing function can easily be integrated by connecting a printer to the system. After every successful check-in, the printer will generate a sticker badge to signify the successful completion.
These stickers typically state the name of the person, whether they are a patient, visitor, employee, or an external contractor, date of check-in, and time or duration of stay.
Donning on the badges also means patients, visitors, and employees are cleared from potential COVID-19 health threats. It is thus safe for them to enter the facilities and be interacting with others.
Hospital employees can also easily spot anyone who has breached the regulations by identifying those who were not wearing the sticker.
Provision of state-mandated QR code
Several states and territories have mandated their citizens to check-in via specific QR codes whenever they enter places and buildings. It is the responsibility of the organisations to provide these QR codes and ensure people entering their facilities complete the check-in.
The hospital check-in system makes it more convenient for both the organisation and people seeking entry by providing the state-mandated QR code for one of its check-in steps.
There is no need for the hospital to print and display the QR code at a separate location. Patients, visitors, and employees are also less likely to miss out on checking-in via the QR code since the main check-in process incorporated it.
Patient queue management is crucial for every hospital. Queue ticketing is one of the ways the hospital check-in system helps in easing the problems of long patient queues.
Non-emergency walk-in patients who have checked in will receive a queue number for consultation. These queue numbers can be provided as a physical ticket or just a number shown to patients.
To further optimise the queue process, the system sends updates on the queue status to the patients’ phone numbers. For example, providing the estimated waiting time and number of patients before one’s turn, and thanking them for their patience.
This helps to reduce patients’ dissatisfaction with the long queues as the hospital displays care and attention to the patients. Patients also perceived waiting times to be shorter when there is a known waiting duration.
Collection of post-visit feedback
A seemingly minor but useful feature the hospital check-in system can provide is the collection of post-visit feedback from visitors and patients. This feature utilises the contact information collected at check-ins to reach out to the target audience.
After a trip to the hospital, the system sends an automatic message to visitors and patients, asking them to complete a short survey on their experience. Some of these multiple-choice and open-ended questions include:
- How did we do today?
- What do you think about our COVID-19 safety measures?
- How did we go at explaining the new restrictions to you?
- Tell us more about your experience today.
- Did we exceed your expectations?
Through this, hospitals are able to capture visitors’ and patients’ in-moment sentiments easily and conveniently. The collected data helps to develop real-time dashboards to track and monitor the hospital’s net promoter score and experience trends.
Ultimately, this helps the hospital identify problem areas and improve on them to achieve higher satisfaction scores among patients and visitors.
Why do you need it?
As we gain an understanding of a hospital check-in system, it is easy to list out multiple reasons why hospitals need it. Many fall back to these three main factors:
The bottom line of every hospital is patient safety. According to the World Health Organisation, the patient safety discipline aims to prevent and reduce risks, errors, and harm that occur to patients during the provision of healthcare.
Harm and injury to patients can occur at many different steps of the entire healthcare process, even the moment they step into the facility. Patients can be exposed to viruses and diseases brought in by visitors, employees, or other patients.
Hence, the hospital check-in system is the perfect solution to enhance patient safety. The compulsory check-in procedures ensure everyone entering is healthy and does not have close contact with people or places carrying the COVID-19 virus. Much needed control and regulation of people entering the hospital is exercised.
This also meant the system can protect visitors and employees at the hospital from health threats as well. They are less likely to expose to the virus at the facilities due to lower risks of contracting the virus.
Consequently, the use of a hospital check-in system improves the satisfaction of patients, visitors, and employees as they may feel more valued and protected. The hospital will also be helping the community control the spread of the virus by providing information for contact-tracing.
Compliance is one of the key priorities for hospitals. It encompasses being aware of and implementing policies and procedures to meet the standards set by laws, acts, and guidelines.
However, it is complicated and challenging to constantly stay on top of the ever-changing healthcare regulations. As such, software like a hospital check-in system becomes essential.
The hospital check-in system aids in healthcare compliance such as adherence with vaccine mandates and privacy acts. Its vaccination management function and secure cloud storage ensure compliance with these regulations.
Additionally, the system is flexible and adaptable to hospitals’ policies and procedures. If the hospital were to set its own capacity limits and entry requirements, the staff can adjust the system’s parameters to meet them.
As a result, the system effectively achieves compliance. Such an impact can also bolster a stronger reputation and trust for the hospital as the public is able to see the organisation’s efforts in ensuring compliance. Not to mention, the hospital is less likely to incur penalties or sanctions for breaching regulations.
The tightening entry requirements force hospitals to quickly adapt their operation processes to the changes. They need to implement new measures to avoid breaching government regulations and to do their part in minimising the virus spread.
Importantly, these new measures need to be cost-effective. Hence, adopting a hospital check-in system will be advantageous. The system automates check-ins without the need for manual labour.
The hospital does not need to station an employee at the entrance, nor do the employees need to manually record and screen visitors and patients. This prevents additional labour costs incurred and entry can be completed within a few minutes. Hence, the system helps to achieve operational efficiency despite the growing process complexities.
In addition, the hospital check-in system collects and monitors data on traffic at the hospital. Employees can efficiently mitigate signs of overcrowding in real-time.
If your hospital isn’t utilising a hospital check-in system, it’s really time to start adopting one. The cost of keeping up with hospital entry requirements without technology support will continue to rake up in this pandemic era.
Weighing the cost of investing in the system and the benefits it brings, the system is definitely worth the investment.