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Digital Signage for Healthcare

Dec 27, 2011 10:48 AM, With Bennett Liles

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Editor’s note: For your convenience, this transcription of the podcast includes timestamps. If you are listening to the podcast and reading its accompanying transcription, you can use the timestamps to jump to any part of the audio podcast by simply dragging the slider on the podcast to the time indicated in the transcription.

Moving from foam board signs to a complete multi-user digital signage operation takes planning, training, and just the right software application for the job. Ben Pfeffer and RTS Unified Communications got the job done for Mt. Sinai Hospital, and he’s here to tell us how it all went, coming up next on the SVC Podcast.

SVC: Ben, thanks for being with me on the SVC Podcast and we’re looking at a digital signage installation that was pretty ambitious. We’re talking about the one at Mt. Sinai Hospital, but just to start here, tell me about RTS Unified Communications.

Ben Pfeffer: Well thanks, it’s great to be here. RTS really started as a full-service audio visual design integration company with a superior service department; we started on the service end about 15-16 years ago, which we still do great service, but we saw the AV convergence moving towards IT and all the integration that’s involved with that and we really made a concerted effort to stay ahead of that curve. So right now we’re doing full data center design, phone, premise security, building environment control; we do infrastructure cabling service and of course full AV design and build outs. [Timestamp: 1:37]

And that keeps you pretty busy I’m sure. Now on this digital signage installation at Mt. Sinai Hospital, what exactly was the goal here. What did they want to accomplish with this digital signage system?

Well I’ve been working with Mt. Sinai for close to 20 years, and they have various ways of communicating with their people, with patients, with people that are just walking through the building. Right now when you walk into the main campus building—I wouldn’t say now but probably a year ago, you would have seen 25 easels with foam board signs announcing speakers, upcoming training classes, events, flu shots—anything that any of the personnel walking by might be interested in and this was one of the ways they were communicating with all of their people. [Timestamp: 2:19]

And of course if you need to change anything on that, you’ve got to head to the print shop.

Exactly—the easel’s were cumbersome and the signs had to prepared, edited, printed, and then brought to the locations to be posted, and not only that but the coordination with every department that needed to get the information out, they were constantly chasing this information down and they had less and less time to produce the physical signs. [Timestamp: 2:41]

OK so that’s what they were replacing, so what did they want to do when they came to you. What were they in the market for?

We started on a very small scale. The hospital was one entity there, and the medical school—which is really one of the most prestigious medical schools in the country—they decided that they needed to get some information out to the medical students—first and second year students especially, their class changes, their information that they just needed to get to them. So we started off on a very small scale—three or four displays in a couple of the elevator lobbies that the students pass through every single day multiple times a day. So even though they change, the students would still walking by constantly and be seeing them. So we started with three or four displays, and we looked at Keywest Digital; at that time it was the MediaPod product, and we started this project about two years ago, and now we’ve upgraded just to the MediaZone, and we’re probably going to be upgrading this to a campus-wide InfoZone so they can control everything just from one central location—load all of the content from one location and control all the displays from one location as well. [Timestamp: 3:48]

That really makes things a lot easier. Obviously, there’s an initial infrastructure investment involved, but once you have the system in place and people know how to use the software, it changes things completely.

Absolutely, we can centralize what’s going where; the software is really cool because it’s relatively easy to learn—15-20 minute learning period and you’ve got stuff up and running already. [Timestamp: 4:12]

Is that pretty much why you went with MediaZone for the learning curve?

Yeah, absolutely. I needed to give them something simple—not that they couldn’t handle anything complicated, but when it comes to technology, if it’s easy to use people will use it; if it’s complicated but does a great job, it doesn’t get used. Difficult to learn is the thing that becomes basically a door stop or a boat anchor. It doesn’t used. [Timestamp: 4:36]

Right and I guess a lot of that depends on who is actually going to be operating it, but you probably know that going in once you’ve talked to the clients. You can judge for yourself the level of expertise there.

Well, exactly, and in the beginning we’re really talking about some administrators. We weren’t really talking about people with tremendous technology backgrounds with the exception of one or two people; almost everybody who is using it now does not have a technical background. They’re administrators and they’re really focused much more on creating the content, which is of course having digital signage is great but having digital signage without content is you just might as well just run CNN or PowerPoints up there and people will stop looking at what you put up there. You’ve got only a few seconds to capture people’s attention and this is the first thing—every time they call me into another department that wants to install digital signage—I would say, “Happy to install it, happy to get you the software, but until you start putting content together, don’t think about putting this in. Content is number one and whether you want to do it, you want to have Keywest help you with that, or you want to go to a third party, that’s your call, but you need to think about content first.” [Timestamp: 5:54]

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