It’s a crazy world out there. And while most people are well-meaning and have good intentions, that’s not the story for everyone. Nefarious individuals hide behind every corner, ready to pounce when you’re not expecting it. But that’s precisely your job: Expect the unexpected, prepare for the worst, and protect your environment. When you work as an office manager, it’s up to you to do everything you can to secure your workplace.
While workplace security may not be the most light-hearted topic, it is one of the most necessary. Let’s discuss what you can do to secure your private practice from all manner of threats.
Security Beyond the Reception Area
Many organizations only give a perfunctory look at office security. Few managers think beyond the basics which may include restricting file access and locking doors to sensitive areas. However, office security is far more encompassing than simply locking doors.
As an office manager, you have to consider securing your work environment on two levels.
The first level is the physical space. You must protect your visitors, patients, and staff from any physical threat, which includes violence or even natural disaster. And you must also protect your proprietary information from theft or destruction.
The second level is your digital space. You may have your patients’ personal data stored on physical computers in your office or in the cloud. However, it’s your responsibility to make sure that this information never falls into the hands of bad actors.
When securing your private practice, you have to think beyond the reception area. Office security is everything you do to protect your workspace and proprietary information.
The harsh reality is it sometimes patients themselves can turn violent. And it’s also important to note that not everyone who walks through your doors is there for good purposes.
If you have recently opened a new private practice, you may be even more vulnerable to the potentiality of violence. This is because you may not yet recognize the signs of potential violence. You also may not know when it’s appropriate to implement de-escalation techniques to combat aggressive behavior.
Then of course there is the threat of cyber attacks. Since the pandemic, cybercrime has risen to an all-time high. Cyber attacks are on the rise now because so many organizations have moved digital and have neglected to take the steps to protect themselves and their proprietary data.
However, it’s your responsibility to keep your staff’s and your patients’ personal information protected from criminals, too.
If you would like to maintain the trust of your staff and your patients, as well as continue to grow your private practice, there are a few necessary steps that you must take.
Here’s what you need to know to keep everyone safe:
1. Control Access to Your Office
When you run a private practice it’s so important for you to control access to your physical office. This includes doing the following:
Set up private zones within your office – Visitors should only have limited access to the parts of your physical office that they need to visit. This includes the registration area, the waiting room, the designated meeting room, and the restroom and snack area.
Visitors should not have unfettered access to private offices, to your staff lounge, or to your file room. Even if you do not intend for your visitors to have access to these areas, if you have not implemented some sort of access restriction, such as a lock and key system or badge program, anyone who wants to will be able to access it.
First, decide which areas of your office will be public and which areas of your office will remain private. Next, ensure that you have proper security to prevent any authorized access to these areas. Finally, set up an allowed list of people who may access these areas. Make sure that everyone in your office understands who’s allowed in which area and when (if applicable).
Require appointments – To ensure ultimate safety, it’s always a good idea to manage who accesses your office and when. Ideally, all of your patients should have appointments set before they are allowed into your main office. Design your office so that your reception area is public, i.e. open to anyone who chooses to walk in. However, prevent access to other areas of your office by requiring visitors to be buzzed in before they are able to get beyond the reception area.
2. Implement a Visitor Management System
One of the smartest things you can do to secure your office is to implement a visitor management system.
A visitor management system is a special software that allows you to identify and track all deserters who enter and exit your office building. The Receptionist for iPad is a robust, all-in-one visitor management system that gives you the ability to manage all traffic in and through your office. You can use The Receptionist for iPad to greet your visitors and enable them to check in by themselves. Your visitor management system can even send messages to the host to notify them immediately when the visitor has arrived.From a security standpoint, having a visitor management system is absolutely essential. Here's why: Click To Tweet
From a security standpoint, having a visitor management system is absolutely essential. With this system, you can do the following:
Have a record of who’s in your office at all times – Your visitor management system automatically keeps a record of who’s in your office, what time they arrived, and what the purpose of their visit is. This includes your patients and unexpected visitors, such as guests of your staff member or delivery personnel. Even better, your visitor management system is always up-to-date. You don’t have to rely on visitors to manually record their arrival times themselves as you would with a logbook. The information is accurate and updated frequently.
Free up your receptionist – A traditional check-in process may rely on a human receptionist to do all of the registration, including manually inputting the visitor’s name and other personal details. However, if your receptionist is distracted by registering visitors one at a time then they could miss out on spotting nefarious individuals in your lobby. Having a visitor management system frees up your receptionist to focus on higher-level tasks and regular surveillance.
Automatically identify visitors who should not be there – with your visitor management system, you can create a block list that includes the names of visitors who should not gain entrance into your facility. Unfortunately, there are times when you may need to block some visitors from gaining access to your facility. This list may also include disgruntled former employees or patients that you no longer have a professional relationship with.
Streamline your delivery process – Most offices have a steady stream of deliveries. But you can’t afford to give the benefit of the doubt to everyone who enters your office claiming to have a delivery. Use your visitor management system to keep a record on file, including a photo ID, of all of the people who enter your facility.
3. Pre-Register Patients
One of the first steps to secure your private practice is to pre-register your patients. It’s important to know who’s walking through your doors ahead of time. When you already know basic information about your visitors before they arrive, you can better prepare for their arrival, or prevent them from coming altogether.
With their permission, you can even run background checks on your visitors to ensure that you know the basics of who’s coming to your facility, including their criminal history. This will give you the opportunity to plan accordingly and ensure that the proper staff is present before the visitor arrives.
You can use your visitor management system to pre-register your visitors. Simply collect all of the information you need about the visitor before they arrive and add it to your visitor management system. From there, your visitor management system can send out an email confirmation and ensure that when the visitor arrives, all of their information will be stored and ready for their review.
When you pre-register your patients, you eliminate the element of surprise. Not only is this great from a security standpoint, but it also allows you to be able to provide more personalized customer service.
4. Issue Badges
A great way to secure your private practice is by issuing badges to everyone who passes beyond your reception area. You can use your visitor management system to print badges on the spot. These badges can be printed in full color and include photo identification that you capture on The Receptionist for iPad app during the check-in process.
By requiring everyone in your facility to wear a badge, you can increase your level of in-office security. Everyone will be able to identify the other person in the hallway. This will maximize your office security immediately because It encourages everyone on your staff to look for badges as proof of authorization.
You can also color-code these badges so that different areas of your office have different associated colors. This way, your staff can recognize if someone is in an unauthorized area.
Issuing badges can also give you insight into how visitors use your office. This is especially true if you require visitors to use their badges to access different touchpoints within your office. You can use your badge system to see the route that your visitors take and which areas are most frequently visited. You can use this information to make smarter decisions for the future of your office, including your visitor path.
5. Install CCTV
A great way to detect and possibly even prevent crime in your workplace is by installing a closed-circuit television system, or CCTV for short. CCTV is video surveillance. When you install video cameras in your workplace, you can instantly raise your security profile.
A video surveillance system gives both staff and patients a sense of assurance. They can feel more confident knowing that there is a system in place for monitoring everything that happens in the work environment. Criminals are less likely to commit a crime when there’s a camera present, especially when there’s a system of cameras installed strategically all around the building.
Studies show that the presence of a CCTV monitoring system reduces incidents of theft, which also includes the theft of intellectual property. Not only can your surveillance cameras protect your office from theft, but they can do the same thing for break-ins and vandalism.
However, if a crime does occur, your CCTV camera footage can be used to help law enforcement identify the perpetrator and bring them to justice. This will ensure the future protection of your organization and your staff and visitors.
When installing your CCTV monitoring system, be sure to place your cameras in both well-trafficked and restricted areas to ensure that you keep an eye on all activity in your office. Position your cameras so that there are no “dead” spaces or areas that are unaccounted for in your office.
Ensure that your CCTV cameras are monitored regularly by your staff. If you don’t have a dedicated security staff, give your receptionist access to your CCTV live feed. This will empower your front office staff to have a better view of everything that’s going on in your office.
6. Install an Alarm System
You can secure your workplace by installing a professional alarm security system. An alarm system is a cost-efficient option to secure your private practice and can be easy for your team to operate. Your alarm system can provide 24/7 monitoring to prevent break-ins, and alert authorities if you ever experience a security breach.
Your alarm system may also include a two-way communication system that allows your security team to speak to the suspected criminal while in the act. This can immediately deter crime. Your alarm system can also contact others, including management staff.
7. Let There Be Light
Did you know that most burglaries take place at night? While there’s nothing you can do to prevent night from falling, you can take steps to light up your office space. Install exterior lighting around your office building, especially at all entrance points. Additionally, keep the lights on in your office as a visual deterrent. Criminals prefer to act under the cover of darkness, but if you leave the lights on, they’re less likely to act.
8. Manage Wi-Fi Access
Also be sure to properly manage Wi-Fi access in your office. Many private practices offer Internet access as a complimentary amenity to their office visitors. However, this gesture can open your office up to potential threats.
To avoid the possibility of cyber-attacks while still offering this amenity to your visitors, set up your Wi-Fi so that you can provide unique codes to each visitor. This way, you can close the door on would-be hackers who may attempt to breach your network or even sneak into your patients’ phones and gain access to their information.
9. Protect Your Data
In addition to protecting your physical office space, it’s also crucial that you protect your digital data.
There are several different types of cyber crimes that pose a risk to your private practice and can result in devastating financial loss.
Cybercriminals can detect and then take advantage of security vulnerabilities in your technological systems. Two of the most popular types of cyber crimes include:
Phishing – the criminal attempts to get sensitive information from a user via fake emails or other messages so that they can gain entrance into your system
Ransomware – the criminal gets access to your personal data, encrypts it, and then prevents access to it unless you pay a ransom
To protect your private practice from cybercrime, be sure to keep your software up to date. Software updates often include protection against the latest malware and virus and can shut down access to hackers.
Also, be sure to store all of your client records securely in the cloud. Cloud-based storage can provide stronger backup than on-premise record keeping. You can also encrypt the data when saving it to the cloud.
Encryption is not just for file storage. Also, don’t forget to encrypt your communication with your patients and visitors via email. Encrypting messages can prevent anyone besides the sender and intended receiver from gaining access to the message.
Last, but not least, change your passwords regularly. Best practices recommend changing your passwords at least once per month.
To secure your private practice, implement the above steps. Also, ensure that everyone in your office does their part to prevent theft, violence, and unauthorized access to restricted areas.
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