You may have seen these rectangular boxes on metallic arms that are pushed against the wall while you’ve been in a hospital bed. Some people may think, “They look a bit chunky, they’re probably some kind of medical equipment, I better not touch that.” When they are in fact incorrect. Give them a spin around and you’ll find your own personal TV! But they are not just TV’s. Depending on which model is available, you will also have access to a plethora of entertainment services and clinical features.
Types of BedSide Units
So, there are two main models, the T2 and the T3 (T1 was the original model that has
now been discontinued. RIP). The older models are the T2’s.
They have a phone and a controller which you have to use to navigate the screen. No modern touch screen I’m afraid. They have TV, Movies, Radio, Phone, Web Browsing, and sport from Sky. There’s also a clinical side that has Trust information, Surveys and a Patient safety video. They are then further categorised into digital and analogue versions. The analogue version has no internet (unlike digital), but three sites have Electronic Meal Ordering (EMO). (I understand the acronym, but it does make me laugh. To clarify, that isn’t an emotional phase that teenagers may go through in life) This system lets you choose what you want to eat from your bed, and it also saves food waste. A hospital will save an
average of £182,000 on food waste per year by using this system. Yeah, that’s a lot. However, this system is difficult to install on the T2A, so EMO is best used on it's big brother, the T3.
Speaking of T3’s. They look a bit different and are touch screen! But I’m afraid the
screen isn’t as sensitive as your phone. You’ll have to press the screen a bit harder than you would normally.
But hey, it’s better than buttons.
These bad boys come with come with all of the entertainment options above, as well as TV box sets (great for a good binging session) and audio books. Regarding the clinical
side, there’s also a dementia orientation screen, Interpreting services, vital signs, access to GP services, and the health index. The last one grants you access to an A-Z of all the medical conditions you can think of. Just remember not to self-diagnose 😉
What’s the catch? Well while these units have all this cool clinical stuff available to them, not all the Trusts have opted for all the features, as they get to customize their solutions. So, some trusts will have EMO and others won’t. Some will have the dementia orientation screen, others won’t. You get the picture.
There’s another catch. With this current technology, not everything is free. Well, the clinical stuff is free of course, but the entertainment isn’t right now. After I break it down, I will explain what WiFi SPARK is doing about changing this concession model. Let’s face it, it’s got to change.
- Free view TV from 6am to 12pm everyday.
- Free view TV from 7am to 9pm for children everyday.
- Unlimited free 2 minute calls to 07 and 08 numbers.
- Free calls to 01, 02 and 03 numbers.
- Free Radio including channels 1 to 4 and hospital radio.
You can still watch BBC news in the morning, there are kids shows on then too, and other programs like The Big Bang Theory are available the free time. I know most of us don’t really use TV anymore (well I don’t at least), but if you’re in hospital and don’t have any other choice, then it’s a great option. Plus, the opening up to all free view channels (used to be just 1-5, yikes!) means that you’re bound to find something you want to watch in the morning.
You can also call your loved ones for free which is a big plus. Currently, you can call 07 and 08 numbers for free for two minutes. Whilst two minutes isn't hours, there's no limit of how many times you can use it. So, fill your boots! Don’t forget that you can also call 01, 02, and 03 numbers for free with no time limit! It’s time to finally make use of that landline.
Don’t forget you can also listen to radio channels 1 to 4, as well as the hospital radio, for free. Who needs podcasts when you can enjoy the radio? My personal favourite is BBC 2, they play some very good tunes and keep you up to date with the latest hits. I hope you like Harry Styles!
Paid Features and Our Plan to Change it
Unfortunately, until we can get the NHS onboard, you (or a generous benefactor) have to pay for everything else.
- TV After 12pm for adults and after 7pm for children.
- Audio books.
- Sports BT or Sky.
- TV Box sets.
Why is there a charge for these services I hear you ask? Let’s go back in time…
In the early 2000’s, Hospedia installed 53,500 bedside terminals at 160 hospitals completely free of charge to the Trusts. These were a mix of T2 and T3s, and cost Hospedia £150 million to install. Whilst Hospedia footed the infrastructure bill, it meant that 20 odd years ago a ‘patient-pays’ model was required in order to run the business and provide the services.
This model was still in place when WiFi SPARK acquired Hospedia, a model that no longer works in the current age. In addition, while these units have useful features on them, they have been become outdated due to the speed of technological advances.
Three Year Plan
The out dated Hospedia model needs to be changed. That is why WiFi SPARK has committed to fixing this through our vision to provide free entertainment by 2024. To implement this vision, we have created a three-year plan. This plan also includes a partnership with NHS Trusts to replace the old tech with new modern bedside units, which are called SPARK® Horizon.
WiFi SPARK has so many positive big plans coming to improve patient experience, but these things all take time. The plan is to persuade the Trusts and charities to fund the entertainment side. The bottom line is that WiFi SPARK does not want to charge patients for entertainment.
In the meantime, if you have any questions about how to use the bedside units then call us up on: 0345 414 1234. Or utilise the Bedside Unit Guides available through our support page that also has a live chat feature.