Maximize the Value of Your In-Plant

Updated on March 30, 2023

Gone are the days when your health system’s internal print shop was a place to go for copies and envelopes. Today’s in-house print service departments (also known as in-plants) are an indispensable resource that conceptualize and produce the wide variety of materials needed to communicate with your healthcare audiences effectively—and they leverage the most advanced digital technologies to do it.

As perceptions shift around the role of in-house print service providers, healthcare organizations have a unique opportunity to re-imagine their engagement with their in-plant to maximize its value, while actively identifying ways to support internal customers, patients, practitioners and associates better. 

Here are few ways your in-plant can provide even more value:

  • Enhanced patient communications: As the healthcare industry embraces electronic health records (EHRs) as standard practice, in-plants are evolving to play an important role in supporting and complementing the digital consumer experiences healthcare audiences demand. They understand your customer’s diverse communication preferences. In addition, they are taking on work in other areas such as wide format marketing and facility signage.
  • More creativity: Your in-plant can enhance your organization’s communications by bringing in new ideas, brainstorming and partnering to collectively shift to a culture driven by creativity, collaboration and success. Their primary goal is your organization’s success, and they are focused on engaging with departments to support their communication needs.
  • Reduced costs: Producing work in-house eliminates the premium of outsourcing, providing self-sufficiency at a lower cost without compromising user experience. For example, by optimizing and expanding our direct mail services together with Ricoh, CHRISTUS Health Print Services delivered 26-31% cost savings to our interdepartmental customers compared to external vendors with combined print and mail processing cost savings of more than 35%. Cost savings plus the ability to reach more customers and increase patient engagement? That’s a triple win!
  • Unique applications: New capabilities open the door to an array of opportunities to better serve internal customers and patients, alike. For example, at CHRISTUS Health, we attach ‘badge buddies’ to new associates’ and RNs’ ID cards with information about CPR codes. Historically, we produced badge buddies on a 100-pound cover material that wouldn’t last very long. When we discovered we could use a much more durable material at a fraction of the cost, we began using it for not only badge buddies, but also healthcare ID cards and much more. Talk about unexpected value-add.
  • More time: Your in-plant can also help identify ways to leverage technology and services to minimize time-consuming, manual tasks, freeing up your staff to offer higher value, customer and patient-facing engagement. For example, at CHRISTUS Health, we discovered that an associate was manually printing, folding, stuffing, addressing and mailing outbound communications—all of which took time away from her ability to answer in-bound calls and service incoming patients. By automating the process via our in-plant, we now distribute the letters 72 hours faster and at a lower rate, giving the associate hours back in her day for more direct patient engagement. Other internal departments are now utilizing these automated services, as well.

Bottom line

A vital component of modern, multi-channel communication campaigns, print is alive and well. Healthcare organizations that rethink their relationship with their in-plant have a unique opportunity to maximize its value and enhance engagement with customers, patients, practitioners and associates. Leveraged smartly, the value your print service department can provide is truly boundless. By considering your print services department a strategic business partner and aligning it with the goals of customers it supports, your organization can do even greater things.

Del Shankle
Del Shankle

Del Shankle is the Director of Marketing Operations – Print Services for CHRISTUS Trinity Mother Frances Health System. Del has over two decades of successful Health Care Marketing experience with a focus on customer service, negotiation, sales, and strategic planning. He also brings a demonstrated history of working in the printing industry to his current position, partnering with leaders in his organization on value-based propositions. Over the past ten years, he has leveraged that experience by growing his organization’s in-plant print services investments to include digital, mail, and large-format signage.