Gail Chiasson, North American Editor
While digital out-of-home is of growing major interest to the healthcare system, there are so many departments and divisions involved that it’s extremely important to get to the real decision makers, Dean Reverman, director of sales and marketing for Hammond Communications, Lexington, Kentucky, told attendees at a breakout session of Scala’s Connected Signage Conference in Philadelphia this week.Noting that healthcare centers such as the Mayo Clinic, Cleveland Clinic and Johns Hopkins Hospital are among those equipped with digital signage, Reverman said that the aging population is beginning to hit the hospital infrastructure so new hospital construction is up 8% this year and expected to be up 10% in 2012 in the U.S. alone.
This, in addition to existing hospitals, offers a great opportunity for Scala and Scala partners, Reverman said. Healthcare is one/sixth of the U.S. economy, and there’s money not only in installation of digital signage but the opportunity for ongoing revenue.
“There’s a trend in the healthcare sector for marketing services,” said Reverman. “But there are so many facilities involved within a hospital, for example, that apathy can result which can slow down or even kill a decision. You as a value added retailer can help them and position yourself as a strong partner in their decisions. Healthcare is a service-driven industry and you can complement your team with other Scala VARs.
“Help the decision makers navigate. Know where the funding comes from. There needs to be someone to wrangle about what can and can’t be done in terms of data, legacy systems, technology. You can be the one.“
Hammond Communications Group has been a Scala VAR for six years and one of the things it has learned in dealing with the healthcare system is to gather and get a ‘buy-in’ from a ‘team of champions’ at the healthcare facility involved.
Cordinate, research and educate, Reverman advised. You have to get the people involved to talk about their content expectations, workflow, existing assets. Not only are there different departments, but you have to know that people have a different mindset in an X-ray waiting room than in an oncology waiting room; that visitors want to be able to negotiate a sprawling hospital complex in the easiest way in the shortest amount of time; that corporate has its own wants and that donors are important. Loops on the digital signage may need to vary in length depending on each department. For example, a nurses’ break room and a cafeteria would probably have a different length loop on their signage.
If possible, get IT/IS on your side, but if they don’t want to be involved, there’s more opportunity for other VARs, Reverman advised. And, he said, healthcare facilities often aren’t aware how they can use digital signage for marketing purposes.
“Start positioning Scala early in the process,” he said. “Try to talk, not only to the various healthcare departments, but also to engineering so that you have information on things like construction policies and risk analysis. And, if dealing with an existing facility, you have to know all the ins and outs about things like drilling through walls.”
Reverman also discussed the needs for content strategies, maintenance packages, effectiveness measurement and both internal and external funding.