Communicating information quickly, clearly and often is vital for healthcare providers. The ongoing global pandemic transformed the way in which hospitals and clinics deliver treatment, including how patients or visitors move around a facility. Protocols for wearing masks, social distancing and even who can be in the hospital need to be communicated effectively – and can change rapidly based on local conditions or government mandates. Displaying these changes to patients, visitors, staff and contractors quickly and efficiently has been the challenge.
Efficient and dynamic communications
This is where IPTV video and digital signage come in. Healthcare providers are increasingly using these technologies to interact with patients and visitors to welcome them, provide instructions and streamline time-consuming check-in processes at entrances – with public communication reaching a new level of urgency during the pandemic. Digital signage can help direct visitors to the correct consultation or treatment areas, along with directions to facilities such as vending machines and restrooms – and now public handwashing and sanitizing stations, and incorporating video can make communications even more engaging. Making sure people know where they are going and what to do when they get there is more important than ever in the age of COVID-19.
Yet much of the surge in demand for visual systems within healthcare has also been driven by needs outside of public view. During the pandemic, with staff stretched to capacity, the time available for those on the ward to update traditional static notice boards or even check emails has, at times, been severely limited – and many, such as cleaners and other contractors, may have no access to email at all. Therefore, it has been vital for facilities to adopt digital signage to efficiently update staff throughout large-scale sites and across break rooms, patient rooms, admission areas and other locations. These displays can quickly distribute critical information like policy changes, patient details, staff rosters, operation schedules, ongoing training opportunities, human resources updates and, perhaps most critically, patient intake statuses. All are vitally important during the current health crisis, which not only affects COVID patients and their families, but has a knock-on effect on all others.
Unlike handwritten notices, these systems are often digitally linked to hospital content management systems that can dynamically generate updates for display on multiple screens with little human interaction. The result is significant time savings for busy healthcare professionals, along with more accurate and timely information. So, if there is an urgent update relating either directly to the pandemic or as a consequence of it, it can be made fast and across entire digital systems.
Another area of growing importance during the pandemic has been training, especially for revised COVID health and safety protocols – not to mention new treatments as more has been learned about this coronavirus. Indeed, digital signage and IP video are used to display updated protocols for staff, including instructions on cleaning communal equipment, procedures for deliveries, and use of cafeterias, kitchens and other shared facilities.
Signage and IP video in action
The use of IPTV and digital signage during the health crisis has been the outcome of broader growth in the deployment of these in healthcare environments worldwide. A great example is the TOBB University of Technology and Economics Hospital in Ankara, Turkey, which has deployed screens within patient rooms, clinic waiting areas, visitor waiting rooms, and restaurants and cafés across its multilevel site. The system facilitates the delivery of broadcast programming – including the news – and educational material to 85 patient rooms, six public areas and 28 staff desktops. Access to presentations and training videos that enable staff to obtain medical information or refresh their training has become increasingly important as the COVID-19 crisis has evolved.
Likewise, state-of-the-art hospital facilities operated by Qatar’s Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) also utilize IP-based video and signage technologies throughout hospital sites and patient rooms. The system includes Video on Demand channels to inform, entertain and support the patients and visitors in treatment areas, waiting rooms and other common spaces – and in the past year has given HMC the capacity to easily broadcast COVID messaging through its facilities.
The rising use of IP-based communication technologies within healthcare has been a major trend for the last few years. Additional benefits include the ability to add more screens anywhere on a network, and to adapt signage to offer health-related information in different languages. These systems can also be used to trigger emergency messaging, such as evacuation protocols across a hospital, clinic, or other medical facility.
IPTV and digital signage technologies have proven invaluable during the recent pandemic. The lessons learned about managing the dual requirements of minimizing contact – while still providing outstanding healthcare services – will lead to more innovative use cases going forward.