The History of Patient Entertainment Systems

Mar 1, 2016 | Patient Entertainment

It hasn’t been that long since patients had to entertain themselves with a simple TV during a hospital stay. In fact many hospitals still offer only this as entertainment. But over the last couple of years technology has gone through some massive changes.

We carry around cell phones that are our connection to the outside world. We used to just try again in an hour when someone was unavailable. Now we immediately start sending texts, Facebook messages and check their Instagram to see when they were last online. This need to constantly stay in touch and have something to keep us entertained while waiting for a bus for 5 minutes has had a great impact on the healthcare industry.

An ever growing competitive market has forced hospitals to focus more on customer experience. Or in this case patient experience. Patient entertainment systems have become a great focus for hospitals offering patient-centered care.

How have patient entertainment systems developed over the last couple of decades?

< 2005 – Patient Entertainment 1.0: TV + Phone + Radio

For a long time, patients would be lucky to find a little TV high above their bed. There would be a regular telephone on their nightstand to contact friends and family and a radio to listen to music.

These combined patient entertainment systems were acceptable to patients for a long time. In fact there are still hospitals where this is the only form of entertainment a patient will get.

It wasn’t until 2005 when a serious quality bedside healthcare display was developed. This healthcare display was the first to combine TV, radio and telephone into one patient entertainment system. It would be the forerunner of many more to come.


2005 – Healthcare Display V.1

The healthcare display developed in 2005 was designed to be an integrated solution combining TV, radio and telephone. In addition it got fitted with internet access.

The ability to use internet right at the point of care was of great value to many patients. Although back then we didn’t spend our internet time on social media checking up on our friends. It was still a way to keep us entertained.

Later on, hospitals could add room controls, meal ordering and nurse call systems. This integrated many of the services a patient would need into one device.

2012 – Economical Solutions – Smart TV, Tablet and BYOD

It was around 2012 when the healthcare market was put under pressure. Changing financial support from governments and healthcare insurance companies meant major budget cuts in many countries.

Hospitals didn’t have nearly as much money to spend on patient entertainment systems so cost effective alternatives came to market.

Smart TV, tablets and BYOD (bring your own device) solutions were found to be economical patient entertainment systems. They fit the market demand better than the more expensive healthcare display.

Many hospitals at that time chose one of these simpler patient entertainment systems. These solutions enabled them to offer entertainment services while on limited budgets.

2015/2016 – Healthcare Display V.2

Last few years has brought great changes and developments in healthcare technology. The economy picked up after years of lean budgets. More importantly, more and more hospitals are realizing the potential of using technology in their healthcare environment. This leads to budgets for healthcare technology growing and previous patient entertainment choices are being re-considered.

Healthcare providers are finding that smart TV and tablets are more limited than integrated healthcare displays, especially when considering how to connect to the internal hospital data. Instead of just offering patients entertainment, healthcare displays combine entertainment with education, communication and engagement.

Now that budgets are less limited, healthcare providers feel more confident about investing in healthcare displays. And being able to profit from better patient flow and work flow in the long run.

Manufacturers have also noticed the positive changes in the healthcare industry. They have started to invest in producing new systems that combine technological and pricing benefits from the tablet industry with the ergonomic benefits of a healthcare display.

These Android based patient entertainment systems use a app based technology which makes them more affordable.

Android based technology also means more freedom and easier management for the hospital’s IT department.

Technology offers hospitals the ability to become intelligent. It will free up care staff and engage patients to actively take part in their treatment. Eventually giving doctors and nurses more time to spend on patient care.

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