Public Health in Queensland: What’s the Best Use for Digital Signage?

The private healthcare sector has embraced visual communications – digital screens to improve hospital operations and communications for visitors, patients and staff. But what of the public health sector?

That’s the question we asked ourselves as we prepared for Queensland Health’s recent eHealth EXPO 2018. What we learnt after speaking with many of the 1,700+ delegates is that digital signage is certainly on the agenda.

The top issues we were asked about were:

 

#1 Solving hospital navigation

It’s no secret that many hospitals are like a modern medical maze. When people visit, they are usually, sick, in a rush, anxious, or all three. Studies show that getting lost is among the top complaints to healthcare facilities.

Yet this is a problem that’s easily fixed.

At a basic level, this involves replacing large, physical directories with digital displays. Visitors can interact with the screen to:

  • Search for destination and see a navigation path on a map
  • Search in multiple languages, including accessibility options like audio support
  • Press a button to get assistance

We are already familiar with this technology in shopping centres and airports, so it’s an easy transition in a hospital environment. It’s about easy visualisation: to see your route relative to where you’re standing and other landmarks. You might supplement directions with instructions that incorporate existing wayfinding infrastructure such as ‘follow the red line’. For a more complex route, reinforcement screens or instructions to a visitor’s mobile might be necessary.

Providing a navigation solution doesn’t just solve visitor stress and frustration. It reduces staff time needed to provide directions (which can add up quickly in a busy hospital). And it allows volunteers to assist more people, with less time taken up with basic navigation questions.

Finally, it allows much more flexible and responsive communications to hospital visitors. Directories can be changed in an instant if there is a staffing change – and this can be done offsite, such as from a head office. Screens can be split into two or three sections, so that navigation information can be paired with complementary messages, such as hygiene reminders or marketing messages.

 

#2 Managing queues

What is the one thing that makes people less impatient when they’re waiting in a queue?

Digital signage for emergency wardsInformation.

Like how long the estimated wait is, reasons behind the wait, how many doctors are on duty, or how many critical cases are taking priority.

Providing patients in emergency and outpatient clinics with this information can cut the perceived wait time by up to 35%.[1]

But a good queue management solution doesn’t stop there.

It may also incorporate:

  • Mobile messaging that empowers patients to leave and then return when it’s almost their turn.
  • Digital distractions such as screens with therapeutic imagery or brain teasers.
  • Educational messages, like alternative service providers during peak times, hygiene messages, or post-treatment care information.

Managing people’s perceptions in a queue has been shown to have a positive flow on effect to their perception of clinical service. It’s about improving the visitor experience not just with the clinician, but even in the waiting room.

There’s a more serious side to queue management when it’s applied in emergency. And that’s the impact on patient aggression and violence. The implementation of digital live wait time screens in two UK hospitals resulted in a 50 percent reduction in aggressive incidents, with 75 percent of patients reporting feeling less frustration at wait times due to improved signage[2].

 

#3 Corporate communications

You’ve got to feel a bit sorry for communications professionals in a hospital environment. They’re tasked with employee communication and engagement. But hospital employees are rarely at their desks, work 24/7, and some don’t have access to email.

Using digital signage to communicate with hospital employeesTo be effective, you’ve got to catch employees in the physical environment. That means digital screens behind the scenes: such as in staff rooms and break rooms.

Studies show that digital signage captures 400% more views than static displays[3], and has retention rates as high as 83%[4]

It’s a much more engaging way to present information. The applications for corporate communications are varied. Safety and compliance, employee recognition, operational messages, key metrics, events and fundraising… the list goes on.

 

The elephant in the room

The #1 question we hear from public health staff is something that’s perceived as an obstacle for visual communications, but in fact it’s not.

Integration with existing systems.

This makes digital screens far more powerful, when you can provide relevant, real-time updates. This might be as simple as which doctors are currently available, or more complex if you’re looking to use visual communications in a clinical capacity (a powerful example is prepping staff who are readying to receive a patient via helicopter).

It’s all doable. And it’s not overly expensive or difficult. Modern systems are built to allow easy access to data. That means that with little effort, we can bring relevant data from your back-end systems and use them to automate processes and provide seamless information updates.

 

Post by Yazz Krishna

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