When Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital Boston began planning to open a new facility, it built in a plan for digital signage from the ground up.

The rehab hospital’s management team wanted a way to convey uplifting stories of recovery, and to make those stories central to the experience of patients, their friends and families, caregivers and donors, according to a case study from digital signage providers Aceso and ComQi.

So as new facilities were planned to open along the old Charlestown Navy Yard, the solution was to build in a mix of strategically positioned digital signage displays, run by Aceso and powered by ComQi, that have transformed the hospital experience from the moment visitors walk through the doors.

“Our ability to integrate the digital media system seamlessly into our new facility was truly a unique opportunity to improve our environment of care while also setting a new standard for our peers nationwide,” Spaulding Boston CIO John Campbell said in an earlier statement about the project. “For our staff, patients and their families the system has allowed us to push and create impactful messaging from the moment you step into our building all the way to the bed side.”

The Spaulding Rehabilitation Network offers a wide range of inpatient programs and runs 23 outpatient centers located throughout Eastern Massachusetts.In April 2013, Spaulding opened a new 132-bed facility in Charlestown, touted as a national model for environmental and inclusive design. The new Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital Boston, or Spaulding Boston, helps patients and their loved ones recover from serious injury or illness, and puts people on the tracks to greater independence, according to the case study.

Thousands of people would pass through Spaulding’s doors each day, and the management team wanted an idea, plan, technology and efficient, sustainable processes to reach all of them with powerful messaging that not only left viewers inspired, but also reinforced the Spaulding brand.

“When we started conceiving this project,” Campbell said in the case study, “there were not a lot of other projects out there like it. There just weren’t a lot of examples we could even point to.”

The facility would be “the first post-acute provider in the country to build and design a hospital from the ground up that includes an integrated digital media system with a mix of in-room systems and digital signage throughout the facility,” Aceso said in an announcement of the project in 2013.

Health care management and communications solutions provider Aceso worked with digital signage content management platform provider ComQi to develop a new digital messaging platform that now spans eight floors at Spaulding Boston.

There are 18 different digital media display walls strategically placed around the facility, from a dramatic one-by-six horizontal display strip behind the main floor reception, to smaller arrays in secondary areas. In all, there are 51 46-inch LCD displays.

According to the case study, programming is focused on uplifting stories of renewal: A young girl who almost drowned, now back dancing ballet; the victim of a brutal accident back tossing footballs, using his one intact limb. Content also focuses on bringing in the outside with compelling content, like a long-form video on the accessible children’s playground out front that was championed by late Boston Mayor Tom Menino, or a stop-motion video showing how Spaulding rose up from an empty waterfront lot, and another that captures a time-lapse sunrise to sunset along the historic city’s harbor.

“Some of them are like beautiful pieces of art,” said Mary Bures, Spaulding Boston’s senior director of communications, in the case study.

On the practical side, digital signage screens have replaced the bulletin boards and taped-up posters that cluttered Spaulding’s previous site. ComQi’s browser-based platform enables any necessary messaging to be developed, scheduled and delivered without a sheet of paper. “We’ve eliminated paper messaging, all the visual noise,” Bures said. “We have a vice-president who, when she’s walking around, will pull a poster down if she sees it.”

Communicators have also seen softer benefits, according to the case study. They’ve watched as recruited practitioners have sat waiting for job interviews, watching the video wall programming and learning the Spaulding Boston story. “You see people engage with the stories, and it’s very powerful,” Bures said. And former patients — like one fishing enthusiast who’s finally back on the water — are binging their old caregivers photos of their rehabilitation journey that are being used as a sequence on the video walls.

All the work has not gone unnoticed: Spaulding Boston’s video walls were honored in 2014 by theDigital Screenmedia Association as the Best Health Care Digital Signage project.

“Spaulding Boston’s project is a tremendous reference point for how digital can be properly integrated into an emotion-packed setting like a hospital,” ComQi Group President Stuart Armstrong said. “They invested the time and resources to think through and execute on great content, and then put a platform in place that could deliver and run it effectively.”

And, according to Campbell, the facility’s efforts could be the model for the future. “What’s worked powerfully at Spaulding Boston is now being considered across the organization’s network of Outpatient Therapy Centers,” he said. “There are 23 now, and another 10 under consideration.” Digital SignageToday

Feel free to contact SignCast Media to learn more about the advantages of digital signage.

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