The healthcare industry was among the hardest hit from the COVID-19 outbreak. In addition to the common emergencies and illnesses they already deal with, healthcare facilities have had to shift to providing emergency triage for an onslaught of coronavirus cases. More recently, they are now proactively supporting national vaccination rollouts.
The constantly changing and evolving nature of the crisis emphasizes the need for communication technologies that enable healthcare workers to adjust accordingly. During the pandemic, digital tools emerged in a bid to help manage the spread, such as the track and trace app. In hospital buildings, digital tools are necessary to deliver effective communication across entire hospital and healthcare services – and the communities they serve. Many healthcare providers are finding new ways to interact with visitors and patients through innovative IPTV and digital signage technologies.
Reaching both staff and patients with dynamic tools
The TOBB University of Technology and Economics (ETÜ) Hospital is an excellent example of how IPTV can be used to keep all personnel and visitors on-site informed efficiently. TOBB ETÜ Hospital 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.
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. Streaming hospital interactions by making sure people know where they are going and what to do when they get there is critical in the age of COVID-19.
Technology that’s fit for purpose
In addition to the impact felt by frontline staff, in-patient stays can also benefit from enhanced communication tools and bedside TV entertainment. Qatar’s Hamad Medical Corporation (HMC) also utilizes 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.
In healthcare facilities across the globe, needs arising from the spread of COVID have also driven the surge in demand for visual systems within healthcare outside of public view. For example, 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 been severely limited – and many, such as cleaners and other contractors, may have no access to email at all. Therefore, the adoption of digital signage to efficiently update staff throughout large-scale sites and across break rooms, patient rooms, admission areas and other locations has become crucial. These displays can quickly distribute critical information like policy changes, patient details, staff rosters, operation schedules, ongoing training opportunities, human resources updates and 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 notice boards, 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 or because of the pandemic, it can be made across entire digital systems and quickly.
The need to remain vigilant
Healthcare facilities adopting IP-based communication technologies has been a major trend for the last few years. In addition to the primary benefit of streamlining communications, other advantages 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. It put healthcare providers in a unique position of helping significantly more people on a day-to-day basis, while minimizing direct contact with patients. The lessons learned in the last year will lead to more innovative use cases going forward.