Which healthcare Digital Signage (DS) and Wayfinding (WF) solution is right for you? And is it worth the cost? There may be no better (or safer) answer to this question than, it depends. To use an example, asking this question is like asking someone shopping for an automobile: Do you want a 1966 Volkswagen Beetle, or a 2014 Ferrari 458GT? Both can get you there, but they have very different looks, features, performance characteristics, maintenance requirements and cost factors. They do the same thing in very different ways, but both are automobiles.
Digital Signage and Wayfinding are a means of communication to inform, educate and/or entertain. Within these product categories there are a wide range of products and services available with a wide range of prices to match.
On the surface, Digital Signage and Wayfinding seem pretty straightforward. Put up some TV’s and send them a signal. But wait, this only brings a flurry of additional questions such as:
• What signal?
• What information?
• Is it public, or private?
• Is it copyrighted, copy protected, or unknown?
• Will more than one thing be displayed simultaneously?
• How frequently will it be shown?
• Does it run 24/7?
• Does the content change with time/date or some other factor?
• Who has responsibility for the content?
• Is it more than one person, or department?
• Should this tie into the EMS (Emergency Messaging System)?
• How much does it cost?
These questions, and more, are part of the process of defining what digital signage can do for your “specific” purpose, or purposes. The good thing is, most products have options, and many systems have built-in flexibility that allows them to be customized to suit your need.
When it comes to this type (or any) of technology, there is no reason investing a single dollar until the goal is defined, and a decision is made on content. This should be priority one. Who is going to create it, modify it, and approve it before it goes to a display? This can be done internally, or outsourced. It can be owned on a private network, or cloud based with a monthly fee.
Digital Signage and Wayfinding at their best are networked and managed remotely. Yes, network topology and bandwidth are critical factors when planning and supporting a successful DS/WF system. The IT Department will be involved in the process. The good news is DS/WF components are similar to many other devices on the network. Content type, resolution, and update frequency will have to be considered to keep the network happy.
Displays come is many sizes, types and resolutions. They can be used in portrait or landscape mode. They can go in spaces that are small or large, public or private. They can even go in elevators, lobbies, waiting rooms, break rooms, and ER’s. When it comes down to it, with a little planning, the displays can go just about anywhere that power and signal feeds can be located.
As for content, this can also come in a range of formats. On the simple side, PowerPoint, or some similar software, can be used to create and update information directly to a display, or to a thumb drive. Some display manufacturers are including built-in digital signage in their product offering. This is often an inexpensive way to do a basic system. For more advanced applications there are a plethora of great software solutions for creating, managing and distributing content.
Perhaps the easiest way to explain this is that Wayfinding is in many ways similar to Digital Signage, with the biggest difference being the specific purpose. Generally, Wayfinding is used to supplement, or replace fixed signage, where information needs to be updated on a regular basis like conference centers, meeting rooms, training areas or other places in the hospital where information is updated frequently.
Just remember these 2 things when planning your Digital Signage and/or Wayfinding project. First, like any successful project, it is best to start with a goal in mind and work back through the multitude of options. And second, content is king. Start with the messaging and the other parts of the system will follow.
About Bob Higginbotham
Bob Higginbotham, CTS-I, CTS-D, is the Avidex National Manager of Healthcare AV. Bob has spent his 30 year career in leadership positions in the AV industry including extensive design and build work in healthcare facilities. He owned and operated a successful AV business in Texas with multiple offices in several cities where he managed a staff of over 100 employees. Bob has served as a technical consultant for a major AV manufacturer, led the technical sales team for a national video conferencing provider and provided technology auditing services for several private education facilities. He has a unique working knowledge of audiovisual technology as well as multiple certifications in audio engineering, acoustics, AV design, CQT system commissioning and video transmission systems. Bob holds a BA in communications and has recently served as board chair for a large private school. He brings his years of technical knowledge and leadership experience to Avidex where he leads the national healthcare AV team. Contact Bob at firstname.lastname@example.org