With the QR Code to the hospital

Judith Hillen

Startup Stories

In restaurants and cafés, people are now used to giving their contact details so that chains of infection can be traced in an emergency. But hospitals and care facilities also face the particular challenge of ensuring that it is documented which visitors were at what place at what time. However, the BesuchsSystem, that Michael Bingel and Guido Oberhäuser have developed together can do much more than just store the contact details of hospital visitors. A digital appointment booking system makes it possible to regulate the flow of visitors in such a way that infections are prevented as far as possible. In this interview, the two founders of the startup, which is part of the 5-HT network, explain how hospitals and nursing homes can benefit from this solution and how the application works for visitors.

Michael Bingel and Guido Oberhäuser from BesuchsSystemMichael Bingel and Guido Oberhäuser from BesuchsSystem

What challenges do hospitals and care facilities currently face when it comes to visitor management?

Guido Oberhäuser: The first obvious challenge is that they have to record the contact details of visitors, similar to cafes and restaurants. However, hospitals are much more complex organizations than cafés or restaurants: there are many different wards and rooms, and it must be registered as precisely as possible which visitor was where and when. All this data must first be collected and then stored for four weeks. If there is a case of infection, tracing the contacts using slips of paper and folders is very time-consuming. A digital solution can therefore save employees a lot of effort. But it is even more important to direct the flow of visitors in advance so that there is relatively little contact and chains of infection do not arise in the first place.

How does your visiting system help to prevent chains of infection?

Guido Oberhäuser: Our system makes it possible to control the number of visitors according to an individual hygiene concept. For example, you can specify that only one visitor is allowed in a room at a time or that only a certain number of visitors are allowed on a ward at the same time. Different areas can be treated differently. For example, the intensive care unit can be completely screened off, while fathers in the maternity ward can have permanent visiting rights. The guidelines can also be adapted to the situation, so that, for example, the visiting rules can be relaxed if a patient is close to death. The implementation of such a set of rules requires an appropriate management system that is easy to handle for both visitors and staff, despite its complexity.

How does your system work for visitors in hospitals or nursing homes?

Michael Bingel: First of all, the patient or resident of the facility receives instructions from us with a patient code which he or she can pass on to his or her relatives or friends. They can then register as visitors on a website. To do this, they must first enter the patient code so that we know that they have a legitimate interest in visiting. After the contact details are entered, a short health check follows, which may vary from hospital to hospital. The institutions can define the questions themselves, for example whether there has been contact with a person who tested positive in the last 14 days or whether there are symptoms such as a sore throat or cough. Visitors with symptoms are not admitted for visits. After the successful health check, the visitor is taken to the booking calendar where he can select an available appointment.

Guido Oberhäuser: He then receives a QR code which he can call up via a link, but also download and print out as a PDF document. This code is scanned at the entrance and exit of the hospital. In nursing homes, there is the additional function of booking not only appointments for visits but also so-called exits, for example, if one or two residents are to be picked up for a walk. For visitors who are not Internet-savvy, hospitals or nursing homes usually offer the possibility of making up the registration at the reception desk. Furthermore, our partner MUUUH! Next GmbH has developed a speech dialog system that allows the registration to be completed completely by telephone. We will probably test this system starting next month.

What do hospitals and care facilities need to bring to a successful implementation of the visiting system?

Michael Bingel: Since we offer a Software-as-a-Service solution, hospitals and care facilities can start using our system very quickly. All we need - besides smartphones or QR code scanners - is the so-called doorman list. We use it to allocate rooms, wards and specialist departments. That's all we need to implement visit bookings and the specific visit rules. However, the hospital's HIS can also be connected directly to our system via the standard HL7 interface, so that the data is transferred automatically.

Guido Oberhäuser: In addition, the staff on the wards and at reception must of course be informed and trained. Some hospitals create their own training materials for this purpose, but we also offer online training if required. The introduction of the system therefore requires a certain amount of effort at the beginning, but our customers tell us that everything is up and running after three or four days. Due to internal processes, it usually takes two to four weeks before our system is ready for use in a hospital or nursing home.

How did the idea for the foundation of your startup come about?

Guido Oberhäuser: In May, my neighbor, who works in the nursing directorate of the GFO clinics in Bonn, told me that because of Corona, a visiting concept should now be put on its feet. I had previously worked in management consulting, and the plan to record the contact details with pen and paper seemed rather complicated. That's why I approached Michael, with whom I was already working on another project at the time and who is very well connected in the start-up scene, and asked him if he knew a solution to this problem. Then he did some research and said to me: "No, that doesn't exist yet - but we can do that. So I said to my neighbor: "We'll build you this system." After we worked through three weeks, we had an MVP and went live in the first hospital with half of the wards. In the beginning I myself sat in reception and checked the patients in and out. Because that worked well, we integrated the whole hospital after three days. Through a contact of Michael we soon after also implemented our system in the St. Marien hospital in Lampertheim. Some newspapers reported about us and other institutions became aware of us, so that today we already have more than 30 customers.

Michael Bingel: What is particularly important to us is our absolute customer orientation. As a mentor in various programs, I am always getting to know young startups who want to start with disruptive technologies and develop a product from them. With us it was the other way around - first the problem came, then the technology. We always received very direct feedback from our customers, so we were able to continuously improve our solution.

What are the next goals for your startup?

Michael Bingel: Soon, we want to have 100 homes across Germany that use our system for their visitor management. So far, we have already successfully handled over 65,000 visits, and in the coming weeks we will break the 2,000 mark every day.

Guido Oberhäuser: As already mentioned, we will probably publish our voice bot next month, so that the staff in the facilities will no longer have to handle the registration for visitors who have not made an appointment online. We are also working on developing a lock system so that visitors can check in and out independently with their QR code. Above all, we need a vision of how our system could look like after Corona. We are convinced that it is a good idea in the future, too, to ensure that visits from outside are limited and controlled in an environment such as a hospital that is worthy of protection. Before Corona, hospitals were practically part of the public space, which posed not only a health risk but also a safety risk for patients. In no large company can you just walk in and knock on the door of any room. First of all, you have to log in at the reception, get registered and receive a pass. Why should it be different in a hospital? In the future, some hospitals will certainly consider changing the subject of visits, which was extremely unregulated before Corona.

How can 5-HT support you in your further development?

Michael Bingel: As a networker, exchange is essential for me. That's why I got in touch with 5-HT, because I was wondering how we can best network as a startup in the digital health sector. First of all, we are interested in gaining greater awareness and new customers in the 5-HT ecosystem. But networking is also a great way for us to see what developments are taking place in the industry in general. As I have already been a mentor in various programs, I am also happy to contribute myself and share my experience and know-how with young startups so that new ideas can grow.

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