Bringing the Patient, the Staff, and the Hospital Together.
Doctors’ offices, hospitals and nursing homes are quickly discovering that digital signage can revolutionize the way they communicate with their patients and staff. The advantages are clear: digital signage is visually dynamic, engaging and flexible.
There are numerous applications for Digital Signage in hospitals, doctors’ surgeries, clinics and dentists to name but a few. Content can be changed or updated instantly, and is one of the most effective means of communicating information to patients, not just to promote but to educate. It can show a confused patient suffering from particular disorder what to expect when they undergo treatment. It can soothe the nerves of the anxious children by providing them with something to look at while they sit in the children’s hospital accident and emergency room with their parents, being much more appealing than out-of-date comics. Touch screen displays can be used to help patients find their way or to speed up the hospital check in process.
There is no lack of data in healthcare facilities; the challenge is making that information usable. By combining a visual medium such as digital signage with an effective information delivery system, existing data can be utilised to reduce operating costs and increase efficiency and the quality of service provided. Relevant information may originate from a combination of databases, including facility scheduling or tracking systems, and even patient information that can be obtained by innovative means such as barcode or RFID scanners. This data can then be triggered on demand based on information that is specific to the time, patient or situation. For example, scanning the barcode on a patient’s identification bracelet as they enter the operating room can trigger the display screen to show vital information about that patient and their scheduled surgery. This not only improves quality control, as hospital staff can verify the patient and procedure, but it is also a means of providing the medical personnel with a clear view of the information they require (such as lab results, pathology and x-ray data).
Traditionally, healthcare facilities have deployed digital signage systems to inform visitors about the facility, such as with wayfinding applications or donor appreciation messages. A few progressive organizations, however, have recognised the potential to deliver targeted information to their staff at the time it is required. Diverse information sources and a frequent lack of information transfer between departments and health personnel means that an effective communication strategy is vital. For this reason many healthcare organizations are turning to digital signage as one way to help them overcome this challenge. Handling and interpreting information by several people prior to delivery, increases the risk of inconsistency, delays and errors. Digital signage alone cannot solve those issues; but by linking signage directly to the source through software that is context-sensitive, accurate information that is specific to a time and place can be conveyed to those who need it, at exactly the right time, – in a visual format that’s easily understood whether the viewer is a surgeon or a member of the cleaning staff.
Digital signage and interactive kiosks in medical settings can serve many purposes, from helping visitors find their way around a large hospital to informing and entertaining patients as they sit in the waiting room. The applications of signage are limitless as facilities reduce the use of paper and traditional signs and leverage real-time digital communications.
Some examples of how Digital Signage can be used in Health include:
Education Answer common health and surgery questions thereby achieving improved staff productivity, better patient health and earlier patient awareness of health problems. By having a waiting room digital signage system that displays accurate information about the medical conditions the doctor treats, many of a patient’s questions and concerns can be addressed and satisfied in the waiting room by watching the content that is displayed. Thus both patient and doctor time is saved for other more important discussions. In addition, patients can have something to watch that will keep them entertained and less annoyed frustrated by the long wait times they may be subject too.
Informing Ensuring staff, medical students and patients are up-to-date with latest information: e.g. hospitals and surgeries can spend a lot of time creating timetables, only to encounter confusion when clinics or training sessions printed in timetables are cancelled or rescheduled. While e-mail can be helpful, dynamic message boards, updated in real-time, help reach medical staff and students who aren’t near a computer.
Entertainment One of the biggest complaints that any patient has about a doctors’ visit is the time they have to spend in the waiting room. By installing digital signage systems in their waiting rooms, instead of conventional television, live TV, news, health information and promotional content can be shown to reduce perceived waiting time (wait warping) resulting in happier patients.
Patient Waiting Experience If an NHS facility is grubby, and tatty, then patients perceive that hygiene is poor and doctors are substandard. Conversely if a facility/surgery is bright & clean, with up to the minute digital signage that informs and entertains, then patients perceive the doctors to be better doctors, and will take on board any advice they are given more readily. Private TV Networks in Patient Rooms: Provide patients with an additional programming choice in their rooms, using a centralized media player that connects to existing TVs across your facility.
Image reinforcement Digital signage can reinforce a hospital’s brand with a consistent message while also elevating the overall visitor perception of facilities. Patients and employees alike feel more confident with a hospital that’s up-to-date on technology. In a stressful environment, it helps to have a paperless, clutter-free atmosphere.
Emergency Alerts The speed with which a digital signage network can disseminate instant messages throughout a large hospital can be literally a lifesaver should a serious emergency arise.
Way-finding Way-finding kiosks help patients navigate around a healthcare facility without having to ask for directions, improving patient satisfaction and increasing the chance that they will arrive at their appointment on time. Hospital facilities can be confusing for visitors, especially during stressful times, and existing wayfinding signage can be upgraded to digital. In addition to providing a better customer experience, the technology allows hospital employees to concentrate on their tasks, instead of on escorting patients and visitors.
Making money Doctors can sell space on their digital signage to drug companies, allowing them to promote drugs that are related to the conditions they treat. These doctors are using content that educates and informs patients about their medical conditions, the treatments their practice offers and informative infomercial type programs about a particularly hot medical issue that the practice treats. For example, a general surgeon my chose to utilise his or her digital signage system to provide patients with all kinds of information about illnesses and medical conditions that lead a patient to seek their advice, as well as programming detailing the particular surgical techniques that they are trained in. This kind of use of a digital signage system has a number of benefits for both patient and physician. The reason for the long waits in most physician’s offices is that they are just not able to efficiently accommodate every patients questions and concerns within the 15 minutes they are usually allotted to do so. These days medicine is much a business as any other industry, and often a doctor has to see an allotted number of patients every day to make ends meet.
Emergency Overrides The speed with which a digital signage network can disseminate information throughout a large hospital can be literally a lifesaver should a serious emergency arise. Fire evacuations are just one example, when instructions must be conveyed quickly, clearly and with authority.
Restaurant / Canteen Menus Whether the students are standing in line or sitting down to eat, digital signage is a great way to catch attention and for example post daily specials in addition to the standard menu. It is also used to promote the Government’s campaign to encourage healthy eating.
Communication Strategic placement in key gathering areas ensures your guests get updates on emergency information, special classes and services, chapel hours and other relevant information — without having to pick up reading materials or search the bulletins. Flat screens in a public environment are still a novelty, particularly in an educational environment, and by their use alone audience attention is captured. Interactive components like touchscreen kiosks can be useful in wayfinding; if a patient or visitor gets lost among the maze of hallways, they can stop to print a map that illustrates how to get from A to B. Patients with visual or hearing impairment will have an easier time obtaining information without assistance.
Promotion Particularly relevant for large health partnerships, e.g. by installing digital signage with large LCD or plasma screens around a site, upcoming fundraising events can be publicized. Screens can be mounted anywhere staff and patients frequent: wards, cafeterias, lobbies, waiting areas and corridors, and are far more eye-catching than posters taped on walls. Services offered in private practices can also be promoted. Cost savings Static posters and banners are expensive to print and renew on a regular basis to keep the content relevant. With digital signage no printed material is necessary, so both time and cost savings can be made, and the environmental impact is minimized.
Instant Messaging/Paging Messages, updates and alerts can be easily disseminated to staff and patients instantly.