Electronic visitor sign in systems have come into prevalence in large part due to the pandemic and the need for organizations to remain open and ensure business continuity. Nowhere else is this more acutely needed than in skilled nursing and senior living communities. There are many systems currently being marketed and operators have diverse options to evaluate and choose from which could be confusing. The broader question that operators face is whether to invest in an electronic system. Is there a rewarding return on investment at the end of this rainbow?
There are 4 broad sets of reasons for administrators and senior living operators to consider in deciding if they should invest in an electronic system. These can also factor into evaluating and choosing a system that would be a best fit for their environment.
With the industry gradually recovering, differentiation can be a key consideration for communities that are in a highly competitive environment. Besides “curb appeal”, a well-designed electronic visitor and staff screening system can help alleviate concerns from prospects, families and external providers about the community. Marketing departments can more effectively communicate the “story” around how the community invests in technologies to keep residents and staff safe as businesses recover from the pandemic. The flip side is that a community using a manual/paper-based screening process could face a competitive need, if other communities in the neighborhood are investing in technology and are competing for the same prospects. Depending on the screening system it can also provide valuable info that can integrate into the community’s CRM for lead capture and follow up, and can aid in automating the community review process that feeds into Google and other review forums.
With the industry and the broader market facing a labor crisis, it’s essential to conserve staff resources and prevent staff burnout. The pandemic has placed undue stress on not just the direct care, but the entire community staff, who have all had to take on increased responsibilities well outside of their pre-pandemic job requirements. The increased workload is one of the reasons for caregivers searching alternative careers leaving operators scrambling for staff. In most communities, the front desk or receptionist has been tasked with screening visitors and taking temperature measurements. By automating the screening process, the work burden can be lowered not only in screening visitors, but also in easily obtaining reports needed by management and compliance teams. Receptionists can now get back to focusing on responding to calls from prospects and addressing resident needs increasing customer satisfaction. If hiring and staff retention are key issues for a community, an automated visitor screening system can be a silver arrow in management’s quiver aimed at lowering the burden on already stressed community teams.
Health & Wellness
One of the core purposes of screening is to screen visitors and staff for potential symptoms and control entry into the community. Infection prevention and control is an increasing need within the long term care environment driven by evolving CDC guidelines. A well-designed automated screening solution can go a long way towards communities satisfying this core objective. By restricting entry, the system can minimize resident and staff exposure and can also provide valuable visitor statistics that can support management teams in understanding visitor characteristics and flow. Some systems can also alert management teams when visitors are not allowed to visit a specific resident at the request of families and guardians, which can help with safeguarding the mental health of the resident. Community health and wellness can be a key driver in adopting an electronic system for visitor management.
The pandemic has increased scrutiny by federal and state regulators on community operations and processes that impact resident health and safety. Among other things numerous state agencies are routinely requesting not just visitor logs, but also information on provider visits, and records of action taken when visitors were denied access. Communities need to consider not only their ability to keep track of such information, but also the speed with which these reports can be obtained to satisfy the surveyor’s needs. On a related note, the news media has brought attention from litigation experts on potential non-compliance issues, adding to the challenges that operators face in maintaining business continuity. A good visitor and staff screening system can support a community’s processes and also go a long way in ensuring compliance. Not to be overlooked, compliance, or lack thereof, not only has a financial impact but can also impact a communities marketing and reviews.
It is very clear that COVID has brought forth a new reality to personal and professional lives. With numerous variants being discovered, it is quite conceivable that communities will need to learn to live with a base level of COVID for years to come, much like the flu and the common cold. Technology investments in well-designed systems can help operators live in this new world and meet their strategic goals for occupancy, staff retention, and compliance.