How to transform empty hospital space for a better patient experience

Innovare Medical Media launched in 2010 with the mission of helping hospitals communicate with their patients, doctors, hospital staff and community at large.

The company's first partner was Winthrop-University Hospital in Mineola, N.Y., signing on in March 2011; since then, the company has grown to partner with numerous leading hospitals across the country— including more than 20 HCA hospitals, Northwell Health in New Hyde Park, N.Y., RWJ Barnabas Health in West Orange, N.J., as well as the Allegheny Health Network and St. Luke's University Health Network in PA.

Hospitals contract with Innovare to partner on marketing and media strategy, and the company tailors each initiative to the specific hospital to complement what the hospital is already doing.

"The business was born out of how rapidly the healthcare industry is evolving. It's becoming a more competitive space, and hospitals are trying to communicate many different things to the outside world," says Michael Ricciardi, co-founder and partner – business development of Branchburg, N.J.-based Innovare Medical Media. "Hospitals are challenged to find different ways to communicate their message and tell their community about awards, rankings and local initiatives."

Hospitals have space within their facilities and around campus to promote the hospital's service at no extra capital cost. Innovare works with hospitals to leverage those opportunities and they contribute newly generated revenue back to the facility. For example, the company worked with the HCA Far West Division hospitals to transform previously sterile areas of the hospital to areas to cross-sell strategic initiatives, feature staff and boost morale.

"Most hospitals are looking for new or creative ways to get ahead of the curve and further their presence and awareness in the community," says Mr. Ricciardi.

The company partners with hospitals on communication methods, such as signage and banners across the hospital campus, as well as technology that can improve the patient and family experience.

"The Innovare program launched in April 2013, features leading local and regional businesses in digital, large-format, edge- and back-lit signage placed in high foot traffic areas throughout the hospital network. It has proved popular with businesses because it is affordable and reaches thousands of patients, family members, visitors and hospital employees," says Ken Szydlow, vice president of marketing, St. Luke's University Health Network.

Innovare's most recent initiative has been installing digital media charging stations at their partnering facilities so families can charge their cell phone, laptop or other digital devices while in the hospital's lobby.

"Many individuals arrive at the hospital unexpectedly without charging cords for their phones, tablets or computers, and they may be waiting some time for word about a friend or loved one who has had surgery or is undergoing a procedure," said Senior Vice President, Marketing, Advertising and Public Relations at Mineola, N.Y.-based Winthrop-University Hospital J. Edmund Keating. "This creative charging station enables us to provide a valuable and convenient service to patients and visitors who may need to power up their devices."

Charging stations alone could come at a huge expense, but Innovare installs and maintains the equipment for hospital partners at zero cost to the hospital by leveraging messaging by hospital approved sponsors to support the program.

"The big need we found on the hospital side was developing and manufacturing these charging stations and the units we have developed charge 16 devices at once," says Mr. Ricciardi. "The hospitals are putting them in cafeterias, waiting areas and lobbies so people can connect free of charge. That's a win on the patient experience side and a huge service hospitals can provide while being able to communicate effectively with this on-campus audience. In addition to the impactful marketing vehicles and charging stations hospitals gain from this relationship at no cost, Innovare thrilled to have contributed over $1M to our partners is a short period of time."

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