Healthcare professionals want to ensure patients have the most comfortable time possible during their stay at a hospital. This is why the last decade has seen a huge increase in the number of hospitals opting to install patient entertainment systems so their needs are looked after. The growing trend for these systems is set to continue.
However, due to a large number of choices on offer when it comes to choosing one of these systems, it can sometimes feel overwhelming. To make sure you pick the option that’s right for the patient’s needs, this is our guide on what to look for when choosing the best patient tv system.
What is a Patient TV System?
Patient TV systems, in their simplest form, are entertainment hubs showing multimedia content on a movable LCD screen by a patient’s bedside. Depending on the system, they enable patients to have access to a range of entertainment such as movies and tv shows on-demand, digital games to play, phone/video calling to friends and family, and internet access.
Some systems also enable patients to log in to their own streaming accounts such as Netflix and Hulu. They are able to take advantage of all these features by using a touch-sensitive LCD screen at their bedside that is mounted onto an ergonomically designed bedside arm.
There is also no standardized term for what these systems are called. So you may encounter a variety of phrases that mean the same or similar things. So if you come across terms such as Hospital TV system, bedside entertainment system or patient TV solutions, it’s likely they are all referring to the same type of product.
Some of these patient systems also come with added features too, such as the ability for doctors and nurses to bring up test results on the screen and call up the patient’s medical records. You can read more on this in our article 5 ways to combine hospital information systems with patient entertainment systems.
Others may give patients the ability to attach their own tablets to the system, or charge their phones and other electronic devices with USB ports.
The History Of Patient Entertainment Systems
Before 2005, entertainment systems were rare in hospitals. Most hospitals only had small bedside radios and one hospital room TV shared among others in a ward, from which the channels couldn’t be changed easily. For calling purposes, some beds had a phone where expensive calls to family could be made. However, the rise of the internet changed everything, and for the better.
2005 is when hospitals first started implementing bedside systems that are more familiar with what we use today. Instead of a shared TV, beds were each given access to one, made possible by the use of LCD screen mounted on specialized bedside arms. These arms meant patients could position screens in a place best-suited to their viewing, and nurses and doctors could easily move the system to one side when medical attention was needed.
It was also around 2005 when these bedside systems integrated more advanced technologies such as touch screens, on-demand multimedia and television, and personal phones to call loved ones. However, limitations meant it was often expensive for patients to make full use of these features.
Since then technology has gone from strength to strength. Updates in everything from internet speeds to HD screens, touch-responsive gestures, faster processors and more intuitive software mean modern systems have the capacity to provide so much more enjoyment for patients, and save so much time for staff.
Why Healthcare TV is a growing industry
People are more connected than ever before. Across all age groups a majority regularly use the internet and smartphones to access media and the internet, and stay connected to friends and family. Hospitals can sometimes feel daunting for some patients, so any way to give them access to the things they regularly enjoy really helps to put them at ease. Those who need to stay in hospital for a considerable period of time also have a variety of ways to keep them entertained without anxiety,
There is also a greater need to reduce hospital costs by streamlining systems that help to reduce the workload on staff. Bedside systems are an excellent way to do this. One way is by patients being able to order food or water from their bed. Without systems in place, nurses have to deal with patients for all queries, but now patients can alert staff as to exactly what they need, requests can be handled by different personnel accordingly.
Why many hospitals are still using old patient systems
With rising health costs, some hospitals have been hesitant to upgrade their systems, with many still using outdated hardware and software that is not up to scratch when it comes to the way most patients consume media now. However, despite the costs associated with installing new systems, it’s often the case that it pays big dividends over time. Not only does it lead to increased patient satisfaction if they can watch their favorite shows, call friends or access the internet for a low price, many modern features on these systems cut down on the amount of work for medical staff. The ability for patients to personalize their requests from the system means the right staff can be immediately notified instead of information needing to be passed verbally by staff, eating up their valuable time.
What To Consider When Choosing A Patient TV System
There are a lot of elements to consider when choosing a system that’s fit for use day-in-day-out over years. Hospital-grade TV requirements differ greatly compared to multimedia hubs for other purposes. For any system you need to weigh up the following:
As computer components have evolved at an exponential rate, what may have been sufficient five years ago is likely outdated now. When choosing a system, you need to ensure that the internal components are fast enough to provide slick, speedy usage for years to come. Capable processors and an adequate amount of RAM will put you in good stead.
Screens are another important factor. HD or UHD quality is now the norm that patients are used to viewing, and it enables higher clarity information to be displayed onscreen. Also, touch-sensitive screens need to be responsive with low latency to ensure no frustration or lagging.
If medical professionals will also be using the system to bring up records and test results, then security is also a very important factor. Swipe mechanisms for medical staff cards to gain access can be integrated into the device to ensure sensitive information is kept in total privacy.
As modern systems are much more than just TVs, and work as fully-functioning computers, the right software is key to ensuring both patients and medical staff can easily operate them. A user-friendly, intuitive design is vital, as are accessibility features for those who are visually impaired or hard of hearing. The software should also be able to easily receive software updates and security patches when needed, and ideally will integrate well with services popular with patients such as Netflix. For this reason, system software is often built on Android, which is already setup to cater for many of these services.
The system is only half of the picture. There is something else just as important as the multimedia hub – what it’s mounted on. For patients and medical staff to be able to make best use of the systems, and to ensure durability for many years, precision-engineered bedside arms are needed to mount the systems on. The right ergonomics are vital for patients to access multimedia in various positions when they may not be fully mobile. The arms also need to be able to properly pivot so the systems can be moved aside when staff need to attend to patients. These arms also need to meet strict guidelines in terms of safety and hygiene.
For a more detailed look at the importance of hospital arms, read our article on the benefits of bedside arms
It goes without saying that this is a prerequisite. Healthcare grade TV systems need to meet high standards to ensure patients are kept safe from infection. This means systems and mounts need to be designed so they’re easy to wipe down sterilize daily for years without any corrosion taking place.
As you can see, these devices have so many more uses in addition to being used as hospital entertainment systems. There are also many features and guidelines to take into account when choosing one that will aid a hospital well for many years to come. We hope this guide has given you a clearer picture of what your needs are when it comes to equipping hospitals with the best, most user-friendly and enjoyable services for your patients, and that aid staff in their work too.
To help you analyse your needs when deciding on a system, also read our piece on the 5 questions you should ask before buying patient TV systems.