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Digital health in action — the importance of site visits

Over the 12-months that I have been working for Silver Buck, providing PR and marketing support to some of the most innovative start-ups and  biggest health tech organisations in the world, I have really honed my industry knowledge. And so, I like think that I’m pretty well versed when it comes to healthcare IT — particularly if it concerns one of our many clients. But for all the reading I’ve done, and experience I’ve gained, on a recent site visit I learned that to truly understand this industry, you need to see digital health in action.

This realisation hit me during a visit we organised for journalists to go to the Princess Alexandra Hospital (PAH) in Harlow, where we were showcasing one of our clients, Agfa Healthcare. Following the implementation of Agfa’s Enterprise Imaging (EI) solution in 2018, the hospital had announced that it was operating with a ‘zero backlog’ of radiology reporting cases — representing a 45% increase in staff productivity. 

As anyone working in healthcare PR will know, these results are worth shouting about, as they serve to demonstrate the immediate impact Agfa’s EI solution can make in a way that is both easy to understand and relatable. But with journalists bombarded with hundreds of press releases and story pitches each week, good stories do not always earn the media attention they deserve. 

As such, to ensure that the full impact of the Enterprise Imaging solution was realised, we decided to host a site visit, inviting some of the leading digital health journalists to PAH to see Agfa’s Enterprise Imaging solution in action. Often keen for some time away from their desks, these visits are well-received by journalists, and they are a good way to secure coverage in key publications because they are more inclined to publish a story — to their readerships of CIOs, CCIOs and NHS leaders — if they have dedicated time out of their day to report on it. 

The visit 

The day started with presentations from frontline staff and project managers who documented the journey of EI at the Trust — from the procurement process to the future of Enterprise Imaging at Princess Alexandra Hospital. Having read through the presentation slides the day prior, I knew exactly what to expect from them, but I found myself wholly engaged by each speaker and taken aback by their passion for EI.  

Being in the room with people who had been involved in the implementation from start to finish, and who were able to speak firsthand about the ways in which EI had transformed the workflows and processes at the Trust, was a great learning opportunity. After all, nothing quite compares to the insight you can gain from those that have actually implemented a digital health solution. They’ve seen and experienced everything. 

As such, the journalists welcomed the opportunity to ask questions. Not only did this allow them to fill any gaps in their knowledge and broaden their understanding of Enterprise Imaging, but it also allowed them to drill down and learn more about the intricacies of deployment and future plans for EI at the Trust. This was no doubt reflected in their reports. 

Once the presentations were concluded, the journalists were then taken on a tour of the hospital wards to see Enterprise Imaging in use. This was an important part of the visit, perhaps the most important, as it gave the journalists an opportunity they would not otherwise have been afforded — and that no press release could ever convey. It gave them the opportunity to see Enterprise Imaging in action, in a real-life setting, with real staff managing real patient data. You simply had to be there. 

The results

The results speak for themselves: on the back of the visit, Agfa earned coverage in two leading trade publications, Digital Health and Healthcare IT News. These reports are detailed and accurate accounts of the day’s events, and it is clear that they haven’t been written from a press release. They are authentic, ergo more credible — and that is the value of site visits.