The Internet of Things (IoT) is one of the most promising areas of study for new healthcare initiatives. Research into clinical Internet of Things technology shows that 87 percent of healthcare organizations plan to adopt IoT devices by 2019.
The presence of the Internet of Things in healthcare can already be seen in remote monitoring tools, intelligent sensors, and wearable biometric trackers that continuously record and upload patient data, and while these strategies have contributed to significant improvements in patient outcomes, they’re only the beginning of the Internet of Things’ integration into healthcare.
There are plenty of IoT use cases being explored in health settings, but one that hasn’t received its fair share of attention is digital signage for healthcare. Digital signage integrations have empowered healthcare providers with information much in the same way as the Internet of Things has. These two strategies coordinate with each other perfectly to give both patients and providers new ways to handle data. This capacity for information, in turn, helps practitioners make smarter decisions and increase patient satisfaction from the moment they enter to the moment they leave.
Implementing Digital Signage for Healthcare
In an Internet of Things-connected environment, digital signage for healthcare isn’t a luxury—it’s a necessity. While IoT sensors and biometric trackers give clinicians the data they need to monitor their patients, there are few ways for practitioners to effectively manage and display this data. Indeed, digital signage can be thought of as a natural complement to the Internet of Things; while IoT devices provide raw information, connected digital screens provide the medium for applying this information.
Consider how a healthcare setting enabled with both IoT devices and digital signage can create a powerful patient experience.
Digital signage is the perfect engagement tool for healthcare practitioners. Digital displays placed in waiting areas allow clinicians to prime their patients for appointments before they enter the exam room:
Digital displays can provide important health information patients might otherwise be unaware of; for example, detailing the importance of flu shots, not just for the patient’s own health, but for supporting “herd immunity” across their entire community.
Signage can encourage patients to interact with their physicians by providing suggestions or reminders for health screenings. For example, patients could be encouraged to ask their clinicians about various forms of vitamin supplementation or could be reminded about the importance of regular physicals for preventative care.
Engaging digital displays are known to decrease patients’ perceived time spent waiting for appointments. This single benefit can contribute to significant increases in patient satisfaction.
By supporting the patient experience with information, digital signage for healthcare helps build trust with patients and help make them feel comfortable in clinical settings—an important aspect of providing a quality experience overall.
The value of Internet of Things-enabled digital signage for healthcare is best seen in the exam room itself. Consider how physicians could leverage these displays to provide more comprehensive and contextual information to patients during their scheduled consultation:
Practitioners can link digital displays to their Electronic Health Records (EHRs) to provide visual displays of patient data. Creating charts and graphs of health data to showcase in the exam room can help patients understand the impact that specific treatments have had over time. If the patient has worn wearable biometric sensors, such as glucose monitors, this information can be supplied to provide both patient and clinician to provide a real-time an overview of overall health.
Diagnostic tests, such as x-rays, blood tests, and more can be visually displayed to the patient and reviewed by the clinician. These files can be seamlessly downloaded from whichever cloud platform the clinic is using. The digital display makes it easy for clinicians to cycle through test results and compare diagnostics over time.
After deciding to prescribe a drug, doctors can display side-by-side comparisons of various treatment options, pricing, generic versions, and potential side effects for patient review. The agility of digital screens make this type of comparative analysis possible; patients are taking a more active role in their own health management, and these types of forward-thinking solutions are an essential part of making their information accessible.
While the benefits of Internet of Things-enabled digital signage are readily apparent in the way they support stronger patient experiences, their use is just as valuable for clinicians interested in improving backend communication efficiency in healthcare environments.
Backend Communication and Clerical Efficiency
Digital signage provides an important endpoint for IoT data in healthcare settings, particularly for hospitals and large clinics. The Internet of Things can link digital signage infrastructure with any device clinicians use to monitor patient care, including smartphones, internal patient management databases, and more.
Digital screens can be linked to continuous monitoring devices, such as bedside sensors, that broadcast alerts when patient vitals go beyond a certain range. Rather than being sent to a single clinician’s phone, these signals can be sent to numerous digital screens at once, allowing for quicker response times to each incident.
Digital signage adds a visual element to standard CAP alerts and threat signals that can support faster intervention. For example, if a patient falls out of bed and activates an alarm, digital screens can provide the room number, patient details, and even maps of the facility to help coordinate the efforts of responders. This also applies to alerts that are taken directly from wireless providers, such as Amber Alerts and other emergency warning systems.
Digital screens can help reduce alert fatigue. Research into alert fatigue shows that even moderately-sized healthcare establishments can transmit so many patient alerts and signals that clinicians lose awareness of their importance. If a clinician receives a hundred alerts in a shift, how can he/she know which require intervention? Digital screens can be linked to these systems to broadcast visual elements alongside these alerts, such as color-coded tier systems that show how important each is at a glance. This level of detail can help clinicians understand which alerts are simply a byproduct of their outdated Computerized Physician Order Entry (CPOE) systems and which truly require intervention.
The signage itself provides a powerful communication tool for teamwork and efficiency, giving healthcare teams easy ways to review data, coordinate schedules, and monitor the status of each patient in their rotation. Digital displays act as hubs for this information and place all relevant data at the clinicians’ fingertips.
Bridging Healthcare Internet of Things with Digital Signage
Internet of Things devices will never replace the need for human healthcare providers, but its use opens the doors to numerous advancements that increase the efficacy of practitioner care. Modern healthcare has evolved into a game of data management, from corralling patient records into online systems to monitoring wearables to centralizing information from every source for provider use.
In this way, digital signage for healthcare is the natural evolution of these advancements. Healthcare clinics of all sizes should examine how they’re currently managing their data and decide whether a new, more efficient system of information visibility could improve their patients’ experiences.