Success Story: Children’s Hospital Boston

Self-expiring badges replace handwritten ones at pediatric medical center


Children’s Hospital Boston is one of the nation’s largest pediatric medical centers. The primary pediatric teaching hospital of Harvard Medical School, yearly it logs more than 25,000 inpatient admissions; and its 228 specialized clinical programs schedule more than 543,100 visits. This volume of visitor traffic requires careful management to ensure patient privacy and security.

As Security Manager for Children’s, Scott Glynn runs the hospital’s security, main desk and operations center functions with a staff nearly 100 full-time employees. For years, the facility badged visitors manually using a handwritten log. It was a labor-intensive process that required noting the visitor’s name, date and time of arrival, the patient’s name, and then creating a handwritten badge with the date and the patient’s floor. Reviewing visitor data required physically scrutinizing every log.

The handwritten badges had also presented unexpected costs for the hospital. “We found that our parking lot was full of stick-on badges,” Glynn says. People would slap them on the wall, or on the elevator. We were paying a lot of money to clean and wash these stickers off. And we discovered that the stickers could damage suede and leather, so we’ve had to replace damaged jackets and other garments.”

To end the stick-on badge nightmares, Glynn selected the 2-part TEMPbadge ID Self-Expiring Badge from IDenticard Systems. The badges can be printed from the visitor management system and visually expire, with prominent red lines appearing across the badge to indicate the end of an approved visit.

Glynn also opted to use IDenticard’s color-coded badge headers to indicate visitor status (parent, relative, non-relative), giving hospital staff an important visual cue to help maintain patient privacy and comply with HIPAA and other guidelines.

Once printed from the visitor management system, the expiring, stick-on badge is easily applied to a color-coded clip-on backing, eliminating the problems of damage and clean-up costs associated with discarded stickers.

Now, arriving visitors present their driver's license to be scanned, capturing first and last names in the visitor management system which is connected to the Children’s patient database. The officer checks a dropdown box to match the visitor with the inpatient, selects the nursing unit to be visited, confirms the visitor’s relation to the patient, then takes a webcam photo and prints the visitor badge with the correct background color for their relationship to the patient (parent, relative, or friend).

Using badges with different background colors helps hospital staff quickly tell between a general visitor and a parent. This is critical not only in emergency situations, but also in protecting patient information to comply with strict HIPAA guidelines.

“The benefits we’ve gained in converting from hand written badges are huge,” Glynn says. “The challenge with any kind of badge system is keeping track of them — getting them back when the person leaves or is no longer authorized to be there. The self-expiring feature puts everyone’s mind at ease.”

Glynn initially thought that issuing the badges was going to be a slow process. But he was surprised to learn that it actually took less time to check visitors in and issue color-coded photo badges than processing visitor badges manually.