What's Next in Hospital Patient Entertainment Systems?

When television sets were first offered at hospitals in the early 2000s, the government saw it as a triumphant drive towards “patient power”. And it was - back then. Technology has evolved significantly since and hospital patient entertainment systems need to as well. Here’s how the NHS has moved away from their outdated legacy systems and what’s in store for patient entertainment.

What Did Hospitals Have Before? 


Before 2005, hospital patients were lucky to get a little TV set placed high above their head. Usually, there would be a telephone on their nightstand so they could stay in touch with loved ones and a radio to listen to music. That would be the only sources of entertainment and back then, this was acceptable.

From 2005, hospitals began rolling out the system that we’re all familiar with today. Those screens attached to the bed frame via an “arm” which allowed the systems to be pulled towards the patient as they sit or lie in bed.


While this was great at the time, technology advanced at a pace. Patient and NHS staff demands grew and yet these legacy systems struggled to keep up. For instance, patients had to pay to watch TV and prices have been reported to be up to £10 a day. And when you’re in hospital for a long period of time, this can easily add up and become quite expensive.


Needless to say, these legacy systems were soon outdated, bulky, often had poor quality built-in screens and weren’t user friendly at all.


What Should Hospitals Have Now? 


Following cuts, NHS Trusts began to look for more cost effective and user friendly alternatives. Most hospitals still have the legacy systems - the traditional bedside patient entertainment solution - which are over 10 years out of date.


The best approach is for Trusts to implement a proper patient entertainment solution, like SPARKⓇ Media. Solutions like this will allow patients to stream live TV, movies and music, thanks to apps accessed via a device or the web browser (which can be the patient’s own or the hospital’s). This is much more streamlined and user friendly than the old legacy systems.


What's Good About A Modern Patient Entertainment System? 


This new approach to patient entertainment puts the patient first and helps improve NHS staff efficiency in a variety of ways. These include:


  • Allowing vital information to be easily accessed by both staff and patients
  • Entertaining patients and improving their hospital experience
  • Helping Trusts manage their resources better
  • Preventing ad hoc patient requests from interrupting staff
  • Allowing more opportunities for feedback


Allowing Vital Information to be Easily Accessed by Both Staff and Patients 


Modern patient entertainment systems feature all the information a patient might want to know. This can be details relevant to their medical care or simply checking into an appointment.


Not only does this mean hospital staff will no longer be bombarded with ad hoc patient queries, but it also means a patient can find out what they want to know instantly. They no longer need to wait for someone to be free to help them.


Entertaining Patients and Improving Their Hospital Experience


Being in hospital can be a very isolating experience, with many patients feeling detached from the outside world due to their loved ones struggling to visit during the designated hours. Many hospitals also have poor cellular signal which makes it more difficult for patients to stay in touch with their friends and family.

WiFi helps patients stay in contact with the outside world by allowing them to make video calls, and send emails and instant message chats - just like they would at home. Patient entertainment systems can improve this even further.


Hospital patient entertainment systems provide entertainment and engagement for patients and a clinical platform for staff. This allows patients to watch live TV, stream videos on demand, listen to the radio and more.


What’s better is that patients can do all this on the device of their choosing - whether it’s one of their own or the hospital’s. This means patients stay entertained throughout their hospital stay which boosts their overall experience.


Helping Trusts Manage Their Resources Better 


Despite their name, patient entertainment systems can even help NHS Trusts manage their resources and finances better. For example, the system can be integrated with the Trust’s meal ordering provider so patients can order meals at the touch of a button.


Not only does this mean staff will no longer need to pass meal cards around, the system can be linked to individual patients and their bed and ward number, if they need to move, meals can be redirected to them.


Plus, patients can easily read the electronic menus and be aware of the ingredients before they order.

This is a great benefit for the NHS because it can help reduce food wastage. It was reported that, in 12 months, the NHS wasted £27 million on uneaten food - something which can’t continue.


Hospital food wastage is often caused by patients not being aware of a meal’s dietary contents and when it comes, they realise they’re allergic to something so they can’t eat it. Or, meals may be delivered to the wrong beds due to patients being moved to different wards. A modern patient entertainment system and its integrated meal ordering feature can prevent that.


Preventing Ad Hoc Patient Requests from Interrupting Staff 


NHS staff sometimes have to cater to patient requests, such as asking for an extra pillow, blanket or a glass of water. While this comes as part of the job, it can still disrupt their productivity as they’d have to stop what they were doing in order to tend to that request, after finding out what the request was in the first instance.


Market leading patient entertainment systems can have this feature integrated onto their platforms. Patients can make their “service requests” and this will be picked up by the correct member of staff. This ensures that the productivity and efficiency of the other team members isn’t disrupted so the hospital can continue delivering excellent healthcare.


Allowing More Opportunities for Feedback  


Hospitals require feedback from patients and visitors if they’re to continuously improve their services. But many people don’t complete these surveys, whether it’s because they don’t want to and ignore the reminders or they just simply forget.


Patient entertainment systems can offer integrated opportunities for feedback, which are accessed via a button on the platform’s homepage. Because it’s clearly displayed on the device that they’re using, they’re much less likely to forget. It’s also a lot more convenient as they can use a device that they’re comfortable with using (their own).


Want to Read More on What Patient Entertainment Systems Can Bring to Your Trust? 


A patient entertainment system can change the way an NHS Trust delivers its healthcare services. At the moment, many patients are unhappy with the care they receive - something which is largely caused by staff abilities and resources being stretched too thin.


However, it’s important that you choose the right system for your Trust. If you’re interested in finding out more on how patient entertainment has evolved and what modern platforms can do for the NHS, download a free copy of our SPARKⓇ Media brochure below.


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Rebecca Duffin

Rebecca Duffin

Rebecca Duffin

Rebecca is a creative, design-lead marketer with endless enthusiasm. She has worked for WiFi SPARK since 2012 and has an in depth understanding of all elements of the business. She leads the design and development of all marketing materials, the SPARK® system, heads up the Social Media marketing for the brand, and liaises directly with partners.