A recurring theme in parts one and two of our hospital digital signage series was the patient experience. This is an important metric to consider as the healthcare industry becomes more patient-centric and government payouts to hospitals grow to be dependent on patient satisfaction. Communication is at the core of the patient experience. In fact sometimes healing begins with simple communication that plots a clear path to healing and well-being.
With more people now insured, there has been an increase in demand for hospital services which means that as hospitals see more patients, they need to have efficient and effective methods of communication. Healthcare digital signage can be the answer. The technology has the advantages of immediacy, relevance, and specificity, with the ability to educate, inform and entertain patients where and when they need it most.
Early communication moves the patient conversation forward
The patient’s experience typically starts with setting an appointment, arriving at the office, filling out an arduous form, waiting, reading (usually old) magazines, waiting some more and finally speaking with a physician but not really knowing what questions to ask because of a lack of familiarity with the ailment or medical procedure.
This experience includes multiple missed opportunities to communicate and connect with the patient. Healthcare digital signage can fill this gap.
A check-in kiosk speeds up data entry for the patient and the practitioner – the patient is able to quickly and easily check in and the doctor gets accurate patient info faster.
A wayfinding display or directory will easily orient the patient with the campus and help them find their way easily. When patients have positive interactions with the physical spaces they’re in, most often the outcome is improved patient experiences and loyalty.
A waiting room display showing details of common medical procedures or info about common/seasonal illnesses provides patients with relevant information that they can use. Such contextual targeting has a big impact on patient satisfaction – patients will play close attention to (and be more responsive to) healthcare info when at a hospital than when sitting at home on their computers.
With this information, patients can enter into a real conversation with their doctor about their health, knowing what treatment options may be available, what the practice can provide, etc. Accurate, easy-to-understand information moves the patient-doctor conversation forward. When there is improved understanding of the illness or medical procedure, the patient is able to connect and actively work with the doctor. Such connected experiences drive loyalty and improve the hospital’s bottom line.
The impact of digital screens in facilitating communication cannot be underestimated. An Arbitron study reported that patients who viewed hospital messaging on digital screens found the content enhanced the hospital experience and provided health information they could use. The recall rate is pretty high with nearly 75% of patients who viewed the screens remembered at least one message.
When communication flows smoothly like this, the practice will operate more efficiently, which leads to cost savings, and they’ll be able to see more patients which improves profits.
Healthcare digital signage as a problem solver
There has been an increased need for physicians and healthcare services, driven by factors such as the ACA expanding coverage to millions of previously uninsured people, and 10,000 baby boomers reaching the age of 65 every day.
This fills a marketplace that’s already experiencing doctor shortages. An American Association of Medical Colleges study predicts that the United States will face a shortage of between 40,800-104,900 physicians by the year 2030.
Fixing the doctor shortage requires a multi-pronged approach that includes innovations such as team-based care and better use of technology to make care more effective and efficient.
Healthcare digital signage can be used to mitigate the effects of this shortage. Videos in waiting room displays start educating patients about their condition before they even speak to the physician, and when they do, they’ll have more meaningful, and even shorter, conversations since they better understand their condition.
Displaying health and well-being tips also helps patients with preventative care and can contribute to preventing the occurrence of chronic diseases. The Arbitron report mentioned earlier found that only one-third of all visitors to the hospital were actually patients. Two-thirds were family members and caregivers of patients. Because of their current location and purpose of visit, this is the best demographic to target with preventative care messaging.
With healthcare digital signage, hospitals have a real opportunity to reach out to everyone involved in a patient’s long-term recovery process.
Engaging patients where EHRs diminish engagement
Electronic Health Records (EHRs) are improving efficiency but at the cost patient engagement. A study conducted by Northwestern University found that doctors with EHRs spend more than one-third of the appointment looking at the computer screen, leaving patients feeling neglected.
Integrating digital signage with EHRs creates an opportunity for engagement where the ability to listen, problem-solve and this creatively is optimal. Patients also look at the screens – the Northwestern University study found that patients spend 11% of their appointment time looking at the EHR. Designing EHRs with more interactive elements will allow patients to follow along and encourage them to be more proactive about their health.
Hospitals that prioritize efficient communication will most often have optimized operations and profitable outcomes. The ability of digital signage to be immediate, relevant and specific makes it one of the positive/fast ROI communication tools that a hospital can employ. For hospitals with cost-savings and patient satisfaction at top of mind, digital signage is an investment worth exploring.