According to the World Health Organization (WHO), globally, as of 21 June 2021, there have been over 178.1 million confirmed cases of COVID-19, including 3.8 million deaths, reported to WHO. As of 20 June 2021, a total of about 2.4 billion vaccine doses have been administered.1
These statistics are daunting and although the COVID-19 vaccine is now available in many areas of the world, many are questioning: are we safe yet? The answer, it’s complicated.
While not enough people have been vaccinated to achieve herd immunity, many people are returning to a pre-pandemic way of life and the healthcare industry is no exception. More patients are choosing to return to the doctor’s office after a year of telemedicine. Healthcare workers are showing up for work every day and interacting with more patients than they have since March 2020. This all results in increased exposure and risk – something that, according to Harvard epidemiologist Marc Lipsitch and colleagues, is unlikely to change in the next year, and even possibly until 2025.2
The Impact on Healthcare Facilities
The COVIC pandemic poses many challenges to healthcare facilities. The virus has stressed resources to near capacity. Since the start of the pandemic, it is estimated that thousands of deaths are potentially preventable depending on the health system’s response. Healthcare facilities need to mitigate the risk of resource depletion. When ICUs are full of COVID patients, more PPE, oxygen tanks, respirators, and other supplies are depleted, and this affects the hospital’s bottom line.
Every day, doctors, nurses, and other healthcare professionals are exposed to COVID patients when they seek treatment. Healthcare facilities also need to alleviate the risk to staff’s health so that they stay healthy and productive on the job. When employees are absent due to illness, both staff and patients’ well-being suffer. Employee absenteeism contributes to lower productivity and affects patient outcomes. This reflects on hospital standards of care.
We know that knowledge is power. Patients who understand their conditions have better outcomes than those who don’t. Healthcare facilities need a way to disseminate information to patients effectively when they visit a facility. Risking a breakdown of communication between a healthcare provider and a patient can result in a return visit for the patient, more illness, and greater use of healthcare resources and time for both the patient and the healthcare provider.
Healthcare facilities must mitigate these business risks. So how can we keep everyone safe as we enter into the new normal? The answer is less complicated…Technology.
The Role of Technology
Everyone involved in healthcare delivery is concerned about your safety and theirs. We all want to keep each other well and technology holds the key to providing a stress-free healthcare experience for patients, visitors, and staff. Technology provides peace of mind, so healthcare facilities can focus on delivering the best possible care and patients can receive the in-person treatment they need.
Over the past year, several IoT devices have been developed, including manual body temperature scanners and automated temperature screening kiosks. Temperature measurement is critical as we are likely to see scattered outbreaks of COVID for decades to come, even with the vaccine available, and monitoring is our first line of defense.
For both patients and medical staff, temperature screening kiosks can provide enhanced security and safety, minimize human contact, streamline patient check-in, and share relevant patient health information.
Many of these temperature screening kiosks also feature facial recognition software, so they protect medical staff in two ways. First, the kiosks scan staff’s temperature before they enter the building, so that if they have a fever, they will not spread it to their colleagues. Second, the kiosks use facial recognition software to verify the identity of each staff member, preventing unauthorized people from entering the building.
To stop illness from being transmitted from patients to medical staff, kiosks not only scan temperature, but also enable contactless check-in to verify patients’ personal information.
Measure Temperature Automatically
Over the past year-and-a-half, we have been told time and time again, “Don’t touch your face. Wash your hands. Maintain social distance.” A contactless temperature kiosk helps us follow these rules. Because they measure temperature automatically, kiosks are sanitary, secure, and accurate. Kiosks are a safer solution than manual temperature scanners, which require handling and sanitization.
Ensure Security and Safety
When staff, patients, and visitors enter a healthcare facility, a temperature kiosk can signal a fever and potential illness and deny entry to the building. This prevents the spread of COVID within the facility. Tracking the health of visitors coming in and out of the building gives staff peace of mind.
Some kiosks, like the Black Box Temperature Screening Kiosk (BDS-8), do even more. The BDS-8 recognizes staff’s faces and verifies them against employee records to screen and control who enters the building. If there is a COVID outbreak, information gathered by these screening kiosks can also facilitate contact tracing.
A screening kiosk also streamlines record-keeping. Employees can scan an RFID card to gain access to the building. A kiosk can keep attendance records and log employees’ entry and exit times.
Enable Contactless, Secure, and Optimized Check-In Procedures
Front-desk staff in healthcare facilities is tasked with checking in potentially ill patients. Take for example, patient Dave. When Dave went to his doctor in early 2019 for a checkup, the office staff handed him a paper on a clipboard to fill out. He reached for a pen from the cup full of pens on the reception desk. He then filled out the form and handed it to the office person. Today, this procedure may spread viruses such as COVID, flu, and other illnesses, and is therefore, uncommon.
This year, when Dave went to his annual checkup at the doctor’s office, the check-in procedure was vastly different. Dave walked up to a temperature kiosk, which then logged Dave’s face, temperature, and time automatically and simultaneously. Once his temperature was confirmed to be in the healthy range, the kiosk began displaying instructions on the screen for Dave to follow in order to check in for his appointment. Because everything was automatic, Dave was assured that there would be no record-keeping errors. Using the kiosk to eliminate human-to-human contact kept both Dave and the medical staff safe.
Kiosks also protect confidential information — they can ask questions and store answers or acknowledgements anonymously. And kiosks can quickly process large groups entering a facility. The check-in process is quick and simple. Kiosks can also provide instructions in a language suited to the user.
Kiosks improve safety and security and simplify processes while reducing errors. As we learned from Dave’s experience, check-in kiosks give patients control over their own registration process, reducing errors in recording personal information. The BDS-8 Kiosk can share an on-screen questionnaire or a QR code, which can be scanned by the patient’s phone. By streamlining these procedures, front-desk staff no longer needs to enter data and can concentrate on other tasks, such as scheduling or answering questions. With multiple kiosks, multiple patients can check in at the same time.
Share Relevant Information
Waiting at the doctor’s office...We all expect it. Kiosks keep patients engaged by displaying effective digital signage content upon point of entry or in waiting rooms. Kiosks can play digital signage content when the kiosk is not being used to check in patients. Informational content displayed on a kiosk screen can educate patients about their health concerns and provide guidance on managing their health problems. This gives patients a better experience and time will pass more quickly. Kiosks with an HDMI output can also be connected to a large display for better viewing in a waiting room.
Temperature scanning in healthcare facilities is needed now, but even after the pandemic is over, contactless and automated temperature screening kiosks will still be relevant to the healthcare industry. While the virus is more controlled now and many people are vaccinated, healthcare facilities still need to monitor temperatures. We know that COVID, flu, and other illnesses will never fully disappear. We will be seeing viral outbreaks well into the future. Temperature screening kiosks are a valuable tool for restricting staff and patient access to a healthcare facility. In addition, secure and efficient check-in procedures will always be needed. Kiosks can optimize these processes, too. Plus, when they are not being used to check patients in, kiosks can display informational content to educate patients. This makes it easier to convey important information to patients to keep everyone healthier.
When the goal of healthcare facilities is to mitigate risk to resources, staff, and patients, temperature screening kiosks can be a viable solution. Because these kiosks eliminate human-to-human contact, optimize patient check-in, and disseminate information pertaining to patient health, they provide unparalleled value to healthcare facilities and help ensure their sustainability by keeping staff and patients safe.
Protect your staff, patients, and visitors with the BDS-8 Kiosk. For details, watch the BDS-8 demonstration video and call Black Box.