By Lyle Bunn
Digital signage is particularly well-suited for hospitals, clinics and other health-service environments. Information can be provided on an as-needed and as-available basis, with messages that are interpreted easily by passersby. Waiting times can become useful for the delivery of health advice. Physicians and specialists can communicate more efficiently with staff, volunteers, patients and visitors. There are also opportunities for partner organizations.
The delivery of health services has long been well-served by visual media, from workstation displays to diagnostic imaging. Both digital projectors and flat-panel liquid crystal displays (LCDs) are used in treatment planning, teaching and other activities.
“We consistently find the use of digital media supports the focus on care, education or communications with patients, visitors, staff, donors and volunteers,” says Pierre Richer, CEO of NEC Display Solutions, an LCD vendor.
Today, it is common for patients and visitors to be informed and entertained in waiting areas through dynamic displays (which are known to reduce perceived waiting times), but digital signage networks can also allow messages to be presented anywhere and anytime. The medium can deliver many benefits for the health-care environment, at the most relevant times and locations.
“Digital signage is now seen as an asset to help communicate effectively with patients and visitors,” says Dave Rathbun, vice-president (VP) of national accounts for Four Winds Interactive, a digital signage software developer. “Hospitals are deploying integrated, easy-to-manage networks to serve many applications and support a wide variety of types and sources of data, including direct and live interfaces with the hospitals’ information systems.”
“Dynamic signage is no longer considered optional,” says Mike White, president and CEO of Multi-Media Solutions, an audiovisual (AV) system integrator. “Health-care providers building new facilities do not consider the investment extravagant, but rather a requirement to meet patients’ expectations, with applications like interactive information kiosks, wayfinding, facility information and emergency notifications. They are proactively planning and facilitating digital signage in their infrastructure, not allowing it to be an afterthought.”
Digital signage has become part of a communications continuum. Typically, content created for one medium can be repurposed for another. This ‘transmedia’ approach minimizes the cost and time to produce content and maintains consistency of branding and messaging.
“The return on investment (ROI) evaluation process has helped hospitals better clarify the objectives for a digital signage network,” says Mary Hood, CEO of Digital Roads, another AV system integrator. “Collaboration during planning helps assure the technology can meet expectations. Too often, networks deployed without proper planning have been short on dynamic, interesting content.”