Jan 20, 2011
6 Critical Roles of Digital Signage in Healthcare
By Dean Reverman
Digital signage displays in waiting areas and lobbies of healthcare facilities, as this installation at a Holzer Clinic in Ohio, make the wait time more enjoyable for patients and visitors alike.
In a world that is becoming increasingly fast-paced, on-demand and interconnected, going digital is a necessary transition for today’s healthcare provider. The sheer volume of patients and high demands on physicians are taxing a system that is already under increasing pressure to improve patient throughput without affecting care. From an administrative perspective, the complexity and rate of change in legislative and health insurance requirements also weigh heavily on healthcare providers.
Relief is in sight with a boost in government stimulus and support for initiatives. Construction spending on healthcare projects has remained at historically high levels despite the recent economic downturn. The primary reason is the large aging baby boomer population, which, as a group, is spending more money on healthcare than any single group at any other time in history. As such, hospitals and facilities finally have the additional income needed to invest in new technologies that will enhance the safety, efficiency and comfort of their environments.
All of these elements plus the ever-growing need to effectively communicate to patients, visitors and staff suggests that the healthcare industry is ripe for digital signage technology.
There are dozens of ways advanced digital signage technology can help improve patient care and operational efficiencies in a healthcare setting. From helping patients quickly navigate through the maze of halls in a hospital and easing the frustration of excessive wait times for nervous visitors to educating employees and patients of new health concerns, digital signage technology presents an opportunity to alleviate many of the challenges to achieving high patient satisfaction.
Here are a few examples:
Healthcare facilities like the Cincinnati Children’s Medical Center can use digital signage to display an up-to-date mix of news, health and wellness information, educational information, gift shop ads, cafeteria menus and promotional content.
1. Communication Signs in Waiting Areas. Digital signage displays in waiting areas and lobbies make the wait time more enjoyable for patients and visitors alike. Facilities can use these screens to display an up-to-date mix of news, health and wellness information, educational information, gift shop ads, cafeteria menus and promotional content. In larger facilities, the content on individual screens can be tailored to each department, showing information on childproofing the home in the maternity waiting area for new parents, for example.
These signs also enhance communications in other areas, too — not just waiting rooms. One facility recently included digital signage screens outside its parking garage elevators and throughout the hospital’s long corridors. Another large teaching hospital with an impressive research arm uses digital signs to communicate upcoming educational seminars, events or study breakthroughs that will be presented in its connected conference center. Additionally, a Northeast children’s hospital uses a digital signage screen to educate anxious patients about what it’s like to experience an MRI.
2. Private TV Networks in Patient Rooms. Hospitals can provide patients with additional programming choices in their rooms by using a centralized media player that connects to existing TVs across the facility. This approach is similar to a waiting area display, but the programming loop is optimized for longer content. Because the administrators maintain control of the programming, screen time can be used to display patient success stories, inspirational messages, partner advertising, health and wellness services, or any other content of your choice.
3. Touch Screen Directories and Wayfinding Systems. Wayfinding kiosks help patients navigate the facility without having to ask for directions. This improves patient satisfaction and increases the chance that they will arrive at their appointments on time. Hospital maps can be updated remotely, allowing administrators to manage an entire network of hospital directory wayfinding screens from a central location. Interactive “you are here” touch screens make it even easier for patients and visitors to find their way.
Digital signage also can enhance communications in other areas than waiting rooms, such as this water fountain installation at Central Michigan Universities College of Health Professionals.
4. Digital Menu Boards. Hospitals and large clinics that provide cafeteria services benefit from digital signage menu boards, which enable staff to quickly and easily update frequently changing menu choices along with nutritional and caloric information. These digital menu boards can be changed as often as necessary with just the stroke of a few keys, and be used to advertise specials or provide other news or information in a ticker-tape style presentation running along the bottom of the screen.
5. Patient Registration and Check-In Kiosks. Let patients use self-service kiosks to fill out new patient profiles, update their insurance and contact info, and schedule future appointments with healthcare providers with digital signage check-in kiosks. Hospital kiosks can also integrate with larger self-service initiatives and patient registration systems such as those that provide web-based appointment requests and insurance claims. Self-service touch screens improve overall efficiency, alleviate staff burden and reduce wait times for patients. This is especially important for facilities that are open 24 hours a day but have periods when the information desk is not fully manned.
6. Staff Communications. Efficiently and consistently communicate new policies, updated safety procedures, new treatments, key performance information and more through digital signs positioned in employee break rooms and other common areas across the facility. Staff stays well-informed and, therefore, more empowered to provide excellent service to patients.
Digital signage used in hospital settings has endless possibilities. One on the horizon is to sync website content with content displayed on hospitals’ digital signage screens. For example, one mid-Atlantic hospital hopes to incorporate news from its site, which is updated daily, as one of the primary content drivers for its future digital signage network.
Regardless of a hospital’s needs, digital signage is truly only as limited as the team’s creativity.