According to a study from the Journal for Healthcare Quality, the removal of restrictions on hospital visiting hours can enhance outcomes by lowering patient anxiety levels and feelings of social isolation.
The Morristown Medical Center in New Jersey implemented a 24-hour visitation policy and measured patient satisfaction scores before and after the open visitation policy was enacted. Beginning in March 2012 and continuing thru October 2015, the medical center had 14,444 visitors between 8 p.m. and 5 a.m., with no increase in the number of complaints by patients or visitors. A security officer greeted after-hours visitors at a reception desk. Every patient had the right to determine who could visit, thou there was a restriction of two visitors per patient.
The HCAHPS (Hospital Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems) survey results for the hospital improved after the open visitation policy was implemented. The scores for a commercial satisfaction survey also rose. The hospital received numerous positive comments from family members about being able to visit their loved one before going to work.
“Our experience suggests that open visitation at both acute care and post acute care hospitals can be accomplished with little disruption and improve the patient and family experience,” said David J. Shulkin, MD, FACP, president, Morristown Medical Center. “Supporting patients in a way that allows them to be with family and loved ones can be an important component of the healing experience and may reduce the anxiety and social isolation associated with illness.”
Digital directories and navigation kiosks allow visitors to navigate their way thru the empty hallways after then volunteer staff returns home for the day. Visitors can use a kiosk to print directions or use their phone, which can also be used to send driving directions to family and friends.