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Health facilities have a lot to accomplish. It’s no small task “making every visitor, no matter why they’re visiting the facility, feel welcome, feel informed and able to find their way through these sometimes huge, sprawling and ever-expanding campuses, while presenting a modern, high-tech and clean space,” says Jennifer Davis, vice president of marketing and product strategy, Planar Systems Inc., Beaverton, Ore. Given these demands, hospitals and health systems are looking for ways to build more functionality into their facilities, she says. Digital signage can be an effective solution.
The health care environment has a large number of communication requirements, such as providing visitors with information like facility maps, cafeteria menus and gift shop hours; helping people to pass the time in waiting areas with news, entertainment and health education materials; recognizing and thanking donors for their contributions; and distributing internal messages to hospital staff. “On the one hand, it’s full of information and practical needs,” says Davis, “but layering into that, I think, is the idea of connecting with the mission of the facility.”
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Bright, eye-catching displays provide an opportunity for health systems to tell a rich visual story that keeps their individual missions at the forefront. As an example, Davis mentions the LCD display at the biomedical research building for Oregon Health & Science University’s Doernbecher Children’s Hospital in Portland. On the building’s children’s wall, digital images of patients treated at the hospital highlight the importance of researchers’ work.
Other innovative uses include creating dynamic artwork using Planar Mosaic architectural video walls, which can be made from three different sizes and shapes of LCD tiles. The tiles can be bonded with a protective layer of glass for high-traffic areas. To make a larger canvas for generating ambience or displaying information, the company’s new DirectLight LED video wall system features fine-pitch resolution and seamless tile alignment. This system is designed to provide exceptional clarity in a variety of indoor lighting conditions, whether viewed up close or from a distance.
Digital technology can make video signage interactive, allowing users to personalize the information they receive to their individual needs. This is in keeping with the trend toward personalized health care, Davis says. For example, self-directed touch-screen menus allow people to extend wayfinding beyond simply reading a map to learning more about a hospital, as well as its providers and success stories. A capital campaign featuring a real-time dashboard display could enable hospital visitors to make contributions via their smartphones and immediately see their donations move the campaign toward its goal.
Digital donor recognition programs don’t run out of wall space and can feature more than just a list of names, notes Ryan Cahoy, managing director, Rise Vision, an enterprise digital signage platform provider based in Ontario, Canada. Rise Vision provides a free, open-source presentation software content management platform. Users can design their own content and use their own media storage system and hardware, or contract with Rise Vision’s sister company, Rise Display, Shawnee, Kan., which designs, installs and services digital signage displays. Cahoy says hospitals using Rise signage solutions have created interactive donor recognition experiences that expand beyond top-tier donors, can be updated weekly and include messages from grateful patients, so people can see how their support really helps.
Information on demand
The increasingly retaillike atmosphere of health care means that providers must communicate a rapidly changing menu of services. However, “paper can’t keep up,” Cahoy says. Digital signage not only keeps messages current, it allows people who are used to on-demand information to quickly and efficiently find out what they need.
This can be especially useful in delivering time-sensitive information, like queue times for the emergency department, says Patrick Galante, senior vice president, Corum Digital Corp., Ontario. Corum Digital provides cloud-based digital signage solutions. The company’s online media delivery and management system is meant to make content programming and network operation simple, enabling users to upload information remotely. Corum Digital systems use cellular technology and don’t require on-site networking. The built-in cellular broadband is designed to have no impact on a facility’s local area network and to include enough bandwidth to support ongoing updates and rich, dynamic media. Zoned screens in waiting areas, for example, can display several types of information at once, such as a health education video, news and weather reports, and a ticker of upcoming hospital events.
Corum Digital’s new HumanKiosk product features two-way video presence. With this technology, people can use a kiosk or wall display to engage directly with a remote expert (such as a pharmacist who can answer questions about over-the-counter drug interactions) in a live, virtual face-to-face conversation.
Hospitals and health systems are working to demystify the health care experience by becoming more communicative with patients, visitors and staff, says Jay Martin, director of key accounts for X2O Media Inc., Quebec, Canada. X2O Media provides technical, design, content development, training and support services for its visual communications platform. X2O’s platform allows health care providers to create channels for patient and staff communications, interactive 3-D wayfinding maps and real-time emergency alerts and notifications. The platform can be used to present patient education videos on handheld tablets or other mobile devices, giving patients more private avenues for viewing this information than the patient room television. Outlying physicians can use their mobile phones or tablets to log onto the system to receive information or requests while they’re at the hospital.
To keep content fresh and current, Martin recommends automating it where possible. By integrating applications like SharePoint or Facebook, communication teams can better control and distribute information that is already being managed within these applications.
Good communication means getting “the right message in front of the right person at the right time,” says Martin. A dynamic visual communications platform makes it easy to do this, while also allowing users to manage color palettes and other design elements to present a unified brand.
Nationwide Children’s Hospital, Columbus, Ohio, uses digital signage for internal and external communications. “It’s such a convenient way to communicate,” says Kim Dwyer, corporate communications senior account manager. She likes that there is no printing involved, making it easier to keep material relevant with updates that take little time. In January, the hospital implemented a change to its brand messaging, and “we were able to swap all messages on our digital signs in one day,” Dwyer says. “It was very nice.”
For more information
To learn more about the products covered in this article, use the following links:
Planar Systems Inc.: www.planar.com
Rise Vision: www.risevision.com
Rise Display: www.risedisplay.com
Corum Digital Corp.: www.corumdigital.com
X20 Media Inc.: www.x2omedia.com