20 Feb Video in Healthcare
“I need a healthcare video, stat!”
Video production in the healthcare industry is a unique challenge. You have a job to do, but it takes a back seat to the job doctors and other healthcare workers are doing. Not to mention respecting patients’ privacy and HIPAA laws.
How do you navigate all that and still tell a compelling story with real people? Nothing makes patients (and sometimes doctors) more unsettled than when the cameras and lights turn on.
Over the past 5 years, we’ve shot in some of the busiest hospitals and surgery centers in the country. We’ve worked in operating rooms filming brain surgeries and hip replacements. Along the way we’ve picked up a few pearls that have helped us filming in sensitive environments.
You’ll want to start with a shot list and schedule, as detailed as possible. Think about how your team can maximize your production in the limited time and space you have. Split your team up and shoot with multiple cameras when you can. And be sure to touch base with someone in each department so your presence isn’t a surprise. Get them to sign off on your shot list and schedule. Then be prepared for all your careful planning to go out the window.
If there’s one constant we’ve experienced, from small clinics to huge medical centers, it’s that your best-laid plans change. You may be set up, ready to roll on a doctor’s interview, only for them to get called away. When you do have their time, it may be just 15 minutes sandwiched between meetings and medical procedures.
Filming patients is another animal entirely. Usually they are offering their time with no compensation, just because they value and want to promote the work being done. Do your best to accommodate them. They may show up late or not at all. They don’t have to be there.
Sometimes a patient or doctor who have previously agreed to be on camera change their mind. It never hurts to explore their hesitancy and try to put their mind at ease. If it can’t be helped there is nothing to be gained by being pushy, we stop filming and move on.
Inevitably, you’ll find yourself sitting and waiting due to changing schedules. Have some shots in mind that you can get during the downtime. You need some exteriors of the building or shots of the waiting room? Schedule it towards the end of the shoot and be ready to shift things around if you have free time on your hands.
Nurses and managers are the key holders. Find and cultivate a relationship with them and they will be your most valuable allies. They can talk a doctor into being on camera. They know the patients and staff that won’t shy away from the camera, and they know the parts of the hospital that’ll be aesthetically pleasing and quiet enough for recording sound. Both of which can be hard to come by in hospitals.
Most healthcare locations are no place to bring in a huge crew with lots of gear. Some projects require it, but 90% percent of the time, your best bet is to keep your footprint as small as possible. You want to be a fly on the wall. Maybe not the best metaphor for an operating room shoot, but the point is the last thing you want to do is make the situation more difficult for doctors or more dangerous for the patients.
Healthcare isn’t the only place you can put some of these thoughts into practice, they can certainly be applied to other projects. We’ve found that it takes a different level of care to go into these environments and successfully walk away with what you need.