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A Healthy Market for Digital Signage

By Mike Strand, StrandVision Digital Signage

The number of patient visits to health care facilities in the United States is staggering. Everyone who comes to a healthcare facility is looking for treatment, but they are also looking for information about where to go, who to see and additional insights into their illness or condition.

More and more healthcare providers are relying on digital signage to handle many of these routine business communications ansers, as well as a number of other employee and public communications tasks. Digital signs are a natural for hospitals, outpatient clinics and labs, doctors, dentists and other healthcare providers because it is unobtrusive, attractive, informational and easy to manage.

Most waiting rooms already have televisions noisily showing soap operas during the day. My preference would be to "repurpose" these displays to digital media players that show informational digital signage content, but I understand that that's not likely to happen all at once. Additional electronic signage displays could be installed in the same areas to show health messages, staff profiles, community involvement, public service announcements, local news and weather. Many electronic sign systems can also be configured to play live TV in a frame while showing the informational part in another frame of the same digital signage display screen.

Many healthcare facilities now also have non-television waiting rooms that would be appropriate for (silent) digital bulletin board displays.

Wayfinding is another important application for digital signage networks. Displays in public areas, lobbies and halls contribute a welcoming feel that simple placard signage cannot. Using either straight digital sign display or interactive kiosks, digital signs can help visitors conveniently find departments and services.

Creative uses

One of our healthcare customers uses a large electronic signage display in the lobby area of a major conference room that hosts many hospital and public events. The display can be scheduled to show signage pages specifically designed for the next event and the audience. The hospital uses it to welcome VIPs, promote community involvement and fund raisers, and offer other highly targeted messages to the community leaders who visit the facility. The attractive, technically advanced setup says a lot about the institution and its position in the community.

Another customer uses digital signage displays at nursing desks, labs and other non-public locations for general employee communications and with an immeidate emergency messaging capability when needed. The network normally serves as an internal employee newsletter carrying news of interest such as weather, staff notices, upcoming events, employee recognition, benefits, etc.

The digital signage network is completely independent of the organization's main local and wide area networks because the Information Systems staff uses it to broadcast emergency downtime notifications. The normal programming is overridden to broadcast the emergency notices. It is an alternative communications network that is readily available to busy employees as they pass by showing planned or unplanned events that helps staff implement alternative procedures to continue serving patients.

Plenty of opportunity

As these few examples show, the healthcare sector is fertile ground for resellers. The peripheral equipment, networking expenditures and ongoing support services make digital signage a great opportunity. Few businesses in your local community are more robust or have a greater need for digital signage than healthcare organizations - and there are plenty of ways to sell.

You can approach marketing departments for community messaging and marketing; Human Resources for employee communications; Information Services to help them meet their emergency communications issues; facilities management for wayfinding and waiting room messaging; food services for dining room menus and notices; individual practice groups for treatment-specific messaging. The list goes on.

Even if a hospital or large clinic already has some digital signage, there's a good chance of additional opportunity for displays and even networks targeted to one or more of the applications noted above.

Today's Internet-based digital signage systems offer the flexibility to be installed anywhere there is an Internet connection, and let's face it, hospitals and healthcare facilities are more wired than any other organization. They also seem to have money available to invest in the cost saving benefits of digital signage. Healthcare is a market segment that should not be overlooked for this innovative and flexible marketing medium.

Mike Strand is founder and CEO of StrandVision LLC, an Internet-based subscription digital signage service that is distributed through resellers. Previously, Mike founded StrandWare, a leading bar code software and AIDC company. Prospective resellers may contact Mike at mjstrand@StrandVision.com.