7 Digital Signage Features to Reach People Faster on Your Hospital Campus During a Crisis

Author TouchSource

The Complex Art of Crisis Communication in Hospitals

In the ever-evolving healthcare landscape, a crisis communication plan is a necessary pillar of hospital management. During emergencies, hospital administrators, facility managers, and public information officers (PIOs) are responsible for distributing must-know information to internal and external audiences.

The challenge? Not only do these professionals have to get the word out quickly, but the message has to be clear and widespread. The game changer is smart digital signage, which enhances the reach and impact of a health system’s crisis communication strategy through a hospital’s digital signage network.

Hospitals operate in a dynamic setting where quick responses and seamless communication are expected during a crisis. In these moments, they must get accurate information to staff, patients, visitors, and the broader community to ensure order, safety, and confidence in the healthcare system’s capabilities.

Reliance on Traditional Crisis Communication Outlets

Many healthcare organizations rely on traditional crisis communication outlets like press releases and media briefings. There isn’t always time for those outlets, and not every crisis needs a press briefing. Also, it’s hard to reach the community of patients, providers, vendors and employees with some traditional communication outlets. But what if there was a better, more convenient, and more efficient way to immediately reach people on the hospital campus?

Female leadership. Medical staff having conference meeting in hospital. Female doctor briefing hospital staff during meeting.

Hospital staff meeting about crisis communication plan.

Bridging Gaps Using Smart Digital Display Networks

Traditional communication methods can fall short of handling the complexities of today’s unpredictable crisis situations. The onset of the COVID-19 pandemic showed the limitations of conventional approaches. With mask requirements changing daily or weekly and regulations changing health protocols throughout, it was hard to keep hospital communities informed and up to date. Once issued, announcements published to paper posters, flyers and one-time usage plastic stands had to be updated time and again at a high cost of time and effort.

An Alternative to Paper Posters and Single-Use Signage

As an alternative, leading innovators used their digital signage networks to enhance communications by publishing updates at the click of a button. By having digital signage in patient lobbies and high traffic zones on your campus, you can reach all viewers—patients, patient families, providers and employees—with your messaging. Your messaging can be actively viewed by people engaging with your touch screen or contactless signage.

But it also provides broad reach to “passive” viewers—people walking by who see the message even if they aren’t directly in front of the wayfinding or directory display. A well-planned digital display network on your campus serves as a property-wide “Hospital Media Network” and can serve up regular healthcare, building, community and local information to all viewers.

Technology Features that Improve the Reach of Your Message

Navy blue callout box explaining what is a digital display network for hospital crisis communication plans.

Whether you already have digital signage, you’re researching digital display technology or you choose to work with TouchSource, these are the key features your solution should have to aid you during a crisis. These benefits are built into TouchSource Spark PX™ software which enables clients to manage displays as a “network”. We believe these digital signage features are key to expand messaging reach:


Key Features for Faster On-Site Hospital Crisis Messaging Delivery

1. Emergency Screen Takeover: During emergencies, hospitals face the challenge of providing care while ensuring that the entire community has urgently needed information. Digital signage like wall displays, interactive wayfinding kiosks and messaging boards can display maps, directions, hospital directories and local amenities during normal usage. During an emergency, the hospital can use the full screen to display important messages. The full screen “takeover” ensures that you get the attention of display users and anyone walking by.

2. Provide Instant Updates: Smart display technology allows hospital administrators to instantly broadcast updates on changing safety measures, visitor policies, weather events, and vaccine services at the click of a button. With TouchSource, large institutions and campuses can manage multiple buildings and multiple directories at the same time. Centralized messaging management and distribution across digital display networks ensures fast flow of time-sensitive information. TouchSource makes it easy with our slideshow viewer which displays your uploaded visuals and postings. Also, there is a live information scroll that users can update in seconds.

3. Display Visual, Dynamic Messaging: Different crises require tailored communication strategies. Digital signage technology can help you establish expectations and earn community trust by relaying waiting times, vaccine clinic location, or other important messages. The ability to adapt messages in real-time ensures that information remains relevant and effective as the situation evolves.

4. Offer Multi-Language Communication: Trying to reach your diverse community with your messaging? TouchSource offers multi-language touch screen solutions. Whether your visitors need to find directions, the café, or on-site chapel, it can be hard if English is their second language. We can let visitors toggle to their language, get information, or read an on-screen notice that you upload in their language. When there’s a crisis situation, weather event or other situation, use the ability to link to your website from a directory to reach your diverse communities with information you’ve prepared in their language.

5. Remote Scheduling: Manage emergency messaging from a centralized control center. You can initiate takeover messages remotely, ensuring consistent and accurate communication across the facility, or your network of facilities and digital displays.  Schedule recurring tests and drills to keep staff and visitors prepared.

6. Interactive Wayfinding: In addition to emergency messages, use TouchSource digital wayfinding during evacuations. Visitors can scan directions to their phones to easily find the nearest exits or safe zones, minimizing confusion and streamlining the evacuation process.

7. Community Education: Educating the broader public and the hospital community about health news, flu season, medical research news and hospital care standards is an ongoing effort for your marketing and communication teams. You can arm them with an additional “communication outlet” with a well-planned digital display network. TouchSource digital displays empower your communications team with ways to post visuals, videos, hyperlinks, and scan-to-download (QR code) information on services, health surveys and more. It’s the latest way to ensure place-based communication.

Digital interactive kiosk showing public health messaging in a hospital lobby during the daytime with potted plants on each side.

Digital interactive kiosk in a hospital atrium.

5 Steps to Integrate Smart Display Technology into Your Crisis Communication Plan

Even though the COVID-19 pandemic isn’t technically over, most hospitals are back to normal operations. But it’s not the time to let your guard down, especially as a new wave of the coronavirus is upon us. Healthcare facilities need to get in front of what is coming next.

This is a great time to get proactive in harnessing your digital signage network to support your needs. As you think about future preparedness, integrating smart display technology into your crisis communication plan is a must-do. Follow these steps:

1. Identify crucial touchpoints: Pinpoint places in your hospital or facility where digital displays can make the most impact, such as waiting rooms, entrances, cafeterias, and corridors. Prioritize areas that can reach both patients, providers, staff and visitors.

2. Invest in digital signage as part of your budget: Carefully consider the objectives, costs, content management, and security of your crisis communication technology. Get creative on which budgets can fund your investment. For example, marketing and communications budgets may fund some projects to improve community education via information kiosks and lobby video walls with community messaging built into it. Building and maintenance budgets may work for directories and wayfinding that get patients to appointments without them getting lost. Or perhaps, there’s a budget for art. Why not tap into that for digital artwork on that lobby video wall?

For more guidance, ideas and ballpark pricing for different types of digital displays, download our 3-piece kit for budgeting digital signage solutions.

3. Curate a robust content strategy: Collaborate with your communications team to develop an emergency messaging plan. Preparing visual and written content beforehand will streamline crisis responses. Don’t forget to include multilingual content for diverse audiences.

4. Ensure seamless, real-time communications: TouchSource’s portfolio of smart display technology lets you choose what kind of displays you need (video walls, meeting room signage, interactive kiosks, etc.)  and allows your TouchSource administrators to easily update messages simultaneously across channels to maximize their impact. If you have existing display hardware from another vendor, we can still help you. We can take over most display hardware with our display-in-a-box solution. Ask us about it so we can help you update your software while using hardware you already purchased.

5. Provide training and regular testing: Give staff members the training they need to operate and update digital signage during emergencies. However, if you choose digital signage solutions that are easy to use (like TouchSource), no training is needed. Complete testing on a regular basis to make sure the system works properly when you need it most.

Learn more about how to combine your existing displays into a network with TouchSource, or plan ahead for new investments. We have a team dedicated to serving healthcare who can guide your planning.

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