Healthcare Technology Featured Article

November 24, 2014

Ten Things You Need to Know About Digital Signage in Healthcare

A digital signage system can free a medical facility from messy bulletin boards, outdated posters on easels, forgotten elevator signs and random desktop brochures that mysteriously appear in the middle of the night.

Four Benefits of a Digital System

Digital signage can effectively speak to all distinct audience groups within a healthcare facility: inpatients, outpatients, families, visitors, and staff. For example, a well-placed digital sign in a parking garage can help visitors understand how to pay for parking, while a digital sign in a staff break room can inform nurses about changes to benefits and education opportunities. By placing digital signs at key touch-points for each audience group, unique playlists can be built to deliver targeted information.

No need to be anxious about replacing time-sensitive printed material – a digital system allows you to change messaging instantly, as most content management systems allow for timed displays. A digital sign promoting a conference for medical staff can be scheduled to play the week leading up to the conference and to stop as soon as the auditorium doors close. Updates to the system can be made centrally to ensure consistency and efficiency for real time messaging.


Digital signs can also replace copious amounts of printed material and offer clutter-free esthetically pleasing spaces, while saving the cost of such reprinting. Staff bulletin boards peppered with performance indicator printouts and patient satisfaction data charts can be replaced with a digital sign that functions like a rotating billboard. Interactive digital signs offer families and visitors a much more inviting way to search and locate a clinic or even the cafeteria, effectively eliminating the need for large-scale directory boards or elevator listings.

Digital communications systems easily support overall communications goals like building engagement, increasing awareness and improving patient and family communication. Digital signs geared toward staff can push content from human resources, support corporate initiatives and promote employee events. Any attention staff members give to the messages on digital boards helps them to be more aware of what’s happening in the organization while simultaneously building their engagement. Similarly, creating a playlist full of “did you know” tips and helpful information for families can significantly improve patient and family communication.

Six Essentials for a Successful Digital System

Digital signage systems require interdisciplinary support. Building strong partnerships with key players internally will ensure a clearer understanding of ongoing system ownership and management. Engineering teams focus on placement and construction needs. Information technology teams coordinate power, data and server needs. Marketing or corporate communication functions manage branding and messaging. Each group plays an essential role and shared interests keep the system operating smoothly.

Careful thought and attention should be given to sign placement. Ideally, digital signs are most effective in “natural pause points.” An interactive digital sign in an elevator lobby is helpful for families who forget where their clinic is located. Likewise, a digital menu display placed above the grill in the cafeteria alerts patrons to the day’s offerings and shares nutritional information. Provide informative content where the audience already is – don’t make them seek it out because they won’t.

Choose a content management framework that can expand, contract and grow with your digital signs. As more signs are added, categories begin to form and grouping signs makes management easier. For example, pulling digital menu signs out of the overall digital signage listing and making them accessible for the Nutrition Services team only makes things cleaner and more manageable for users who aren’t adding content to those menu signs.

Collect data to support digital signage efforts. Review analytics for interactive digital signs to better understand target audience usage patterns. Are families using interactive digital signs to search for clinic names or for physician names? Are visitors looking for information about the gift shop? Reviewing analytics can help you refine a wayfinding tool to better serve your audiences. Not to mention the data can also provide information to substantiate return on investment.

Let individual units and departments have access to the playlist. Staff will pay much more attention to a digital sign that contains personalized messages. Ideally, a manager can use the digital sign in her department’s break room to tell a staff about new hires, performance metrics and the upcoming holiday potluck. That unit-specific content can locally display along with a global playlist that corporate communications or marketing sends to the digital signs in all staff break rooms.

Make branded templates to help with content creation. Not every medical center can hire a graphic designer to dedicate to the playlist. By creating pre-approved templates, even the most graphically-challenged staff member can produce an easy to read message suitable for large audience consumption.

About the Author: Kim Dwyer, Corporate Communications Account Manager has been in Corporate Communications at Nationwide Children’s Hospital since 2008 and has managed the hospital’s digital signage network since the first pilot installation in 2011. With various types of digital signs to communicate to patients, families, visitors and staff, Kim oversees the creation of content and works closely with the Creative Services team to produce timely and effective messaging. As the hospital’s network of digital signs continues to grow, Kim is constantly looking for new opportunities to take hospital communication digital and to make digital messaging more effective and engaging. The most exciting part of going digital? Much less printing and no more elevator posters!

Author Kimberly Dwyer is a member of the Digital Signage Expo Advisory Board. A Roundtable Discussion on healthcare entitled, "Leveraging Digital Signage Innovations in Healthcare,” will be presented at Digital Signage Expo 2015 on Wednesday, March 12 from 12:30-1:30pm at the Las Vegas Convention Center.  For more information about DSE or to register for this or any other educational seminar or workshop and learn about digital signage go to

Edited by Maurice Nagle
By TMCnet Special Guest
Kimberly Dwyer, Corporate Communications Account Manager, Marketing & Public Relations ,

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