Health Care A Great Target Vertical For Digital Signage, But The Competition Is Not Just From Rival Providers

January 21, 2022 by Dave Haynes

Health care is a heavily pre-occupied right now by the pandemic, but I think that sector is a huge, longer-range target for digital signage applications that has largely been untouched to date.

Just in the same way workplaces developed into a huge vertical market for displays, addressing communication and operating issues through screens in common areas and at the gateways to shared meeting and work areas, the same needs are evident in health care settings. COVID-based broadcast news coverage from hospital environments regularly reinforces how patient rooms and nursing stations are STILL using marker pens and whiteboards to update patient and operating status, even though the caregivers are digitizing records and steadily tracking activity.

I note this because while it is a somewhat greenfields opportunity, the competition to win business is NOT just with other digital signage solutions providers. There are companies already very active in health care that are adding digital signage functionality to their offers – just as has been seen in other sectors, from payment systems to video conferencing (Zoom, for example, has rudimentary digital signage capabilities).

It would be very hard, time-consuming and expensive for a digital signage CMS to add non-signage communications to meet specialty needs like health care, but on the flip side, pretty easy for a health care-focused software to add basic digital signage functionality – like playing a set of videos in a loop.

Consider a company called Equiva, which announced this week how its health relationship management platform (or HRM) “cohesively powers delivery of educational content and applications via tablets, mobile apps, kiosks, digital signage and more.”

Equiva says its platform blends unique aspects of patient engagement, care management, and marketing in a framework that bridges data analytics with education and behavioral science-driven methodologies – to purposefully mobilize intelligence-driven action among consumers, patients, their loved ones, and members of the care team. 

I have not seen Equiva and can’t speak to the depth of its digital signage features, but these sorts of bolt-on digital signage applications developed by companies that do other things tend to be pretty “lite” in terms of capabilities. They’re not usually built for scale and complexity, and the truly important stuff – like device management and data-handling – are absent or minimal. But the health care facility administrators probably don’t know that, or understand the importance of that.

It’s hard to crack a new vertical, especially if end-users are being asked to pay for, learn and use a platform that exists for just one aspect of communications and doesn’t push out to other devices, like mobile. What’s starting to develop with a handful of digital signage CMS platforms – Signagelive and Screencloud, for example – are headless CMS systems that allow business communicators to use the content and communication tools they already have, and then use an API (software handshake) to distribute and manage content to screens, without having to specifically use the digital signage CMS’ front-end and UX.

So … health care is, I think, a great vertical to look at, but companies need to understand the competition and also how their solutions can fit in and perhaps work with the tools already in place.

  1. Guy Tonti says:

    Regarding these “simpler” packages, pretty easy to say when they will and won’t work:

    On the physical management side, look at these 3 factors:
    1. Lots of locations (scalability)
    2. Fast access to help is available (MTTR)
    3. Environmentally challenging (MTBF)

    For the content management side, look at these 3 factors:
    1. A lot of people watching the display (eyeballs)
    2. Viewers spend a lot of time in front of the display (dwell)
    3. The content is dynamic and changes a lot; same people repeatedly view signs (data/media)

    Then sit with the customer and go over each of the above separately:
    • If a system only has 1 of these 3, just about any solution or internal staffing will work (ie, web or tablet company getting into digital signage; have in-house IT and marketing manage)
    • If 2 of the 3, they should strongly consider having a dedicated staff or digital signage professionals to manage this.
    • If all 3, they need digital signage professionals to manage this.

    When I have talked with customers who think they are #1, either to try it and monitor and call if they realize they need more.

    #2 is the most challenging; both to get the customer to agree on their situation, and/or does the proposed solution (internal or supplier) meet the required capabilities.

    #3 is the easiest to propose and convince; and then over time challenging to make sure the customer continues to see the value.

    Bottom line, these companies are like the old time stereo systems with a cassette, 8-track, radio and turntable on top (often from Sears 😊; they fit a market niche for entry level and got more discerning customers to upgrade to specialty products as requirements increase.

    View these companies entering the market the same way, and leverage them for the more discerning customers to reach out to specialists as requirements increase.

    1. Dave Haynes says:

      Thanks Guy. Great insights!

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