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Why Free WiFi is the Only NHS Improvement and Innovation Idea for Better Digital Inclusion

Digital Inclusion concerns the needs of all users. Every visitor and patient that passes through your hospital doors should have equal access to all digital services. People of all ages and abilities should not be excluded from vital online information. We’ll outline exactly what Digital Inclusion is and how free WiFi will lead to NHS improvement and innovation.

 

What is Digital Inclusion?

 

Digital Inclusion is about making sure that people have the capability to use the internet to do things that benefit them every day. The UK Government’s Digital Inclusion Strategy states that this is broken down into three key areas.


  • Accessibility - all digital services should be designed to meet the needs of all users. This should include anyone that is dependent on assistive technology.
  • Connectivity - people need to have the right infrastructure in place and access to the internet.
  • Digital Skills - the knowledge to be able to use the internet and computers.

Facing and overcoming all of these barriers would ensure that nobody is excluded and everyone has access to the same services and information.


The NHS is aiming to have digital inclusion pilot projects live by 2019/2020. These projects aim to address current failings and ensure that all NHS patients and visitors have access to the same digital services.

 

What’s Stopping Your Hospital?

 

Your hospital should always be looking for ways to improve and innovate, whether it’s through treatments or patient services. Full Digital Inclusion would see all patients benefit from the same cutting-edge services, but some hospitals are struggling to reach this goal.


Hospitals in Scotland, Wales and South-West England are particularly poor when it comes to Digital Inclusion and there are a number of reasons for this.

 

Old Buildings

 

The older the building, the harder it is to implement new technologies. Materials like asbestos make it difficult to carry out major installations and many users experience mobile signal blackspots the deeper into an old hospital they are.

 

Expensive Hardware

 

Systems that require new hardware are often seen as being too expensive. It can be difficult to justify large spend on hardware for digital systems versus new life-saving equipment. Which is understandable, to say the least.


Hardware is also more likely to go out of date quickly and need replacing so it isn’t seen as being cost-effective in the long run.

 

Limited Use by the Elderly

 

There is a common misconception that digital technologies are ignored by the elderly. So, with an aging population, there’s no real need to implement cutting-edge systems that would only confuse and frustrate them. This is wrong.


In 2016, a report found that 39 percent of 65-74 year olds have a smartphone and 48 percent have a social media profile. These figures reflect a growing number of elderly adopters of technology and they are certain to continue to rise in the future.

 

How to Promote Digital Inclusion with Free WiFi

 

The NHS is looking to promote Digital Inclusion across the whole Trust but there are some steps you can take within your hospital to make sure services are accessible by all.


The first step is to make sure visitors and patients have the best possible coverage when in your hospital. Determine if there are any black spots that can’t receive signal and let patients know with signs.


The easiest way to improve coverage throughout your hospital is with WiFi. Many people don’t have enough data to use 4G or 3G for long periods of time, so WiFi would give access for everyone.


Most hospitals have already implemented WiFi networks but not all of them offer the service for free to patients throughout the Trust. Some patients may not feel like they are able to justify spending money on WiFi and are therefore excluded from the service.


Free WiFi should be accessible on every device and multiple devices at the same time. A young mum may be trying to entertain her kids whilst waiting for an appointment. She should be able to use the WiFi on her phone to check important information and her tablet so her children can play games or watch cartoons.


To ensure your hospital is meeting Digital Inclusion targets, you should ensure the WiFi is easy to use for everyone. It should be intuitive and simple, so that users of any age can access information and entertainment.


All information on the WiFi platform should be available in different languages so that there’s no communication problems. For example, no one should be unable to access services because they can’t speak English.

 

Why Does Your Hospital Need Free WiFi?

 

Free WiFi is the most important NHS improvement and innovation that’s currently being introduced to improve Digital Inclusion in the NHS. Not just the WiFi itself, but a comprehensive platform that’s packed with entertainment, educational content and other features that improve patient experience.

 

Patients have access to a huge range of TV channels and Video on Demand to keep them entertained whilst in hospital. They can enjoy Sky Sports or blockbuster films, perfect for taking their minds off what can be a stressful experience.

 

They’ll also have access to a huge library of NHS information, allowing them to research their conditions and make informed decisions regarding their health. Doctors can use the Trust’s devices to show important results and explain what’s happening.

 

No longer will busy nurses have to deal with every single patient request. Patients can request an extra pillow, glass of water, pastoral care and order meals without having to interrupt a nurse, allowing them to get on with their jobs without distractions.

 

This is wholly more efficient than a nurse being disturbed from their primary duties to respond to a patient call button, finding out they have a menial request like needing an extra pillow, going to the store cupboard, returning to the patient to deliver the pillow and then eventually getting back to their previous tasks.

 

This is just one tiny example of a massively impactful benefit on both the staff efficiency and the patient’s independence.

 

For more information on the benefits of free WiFi, download our free brochure today. It’s packed with everything you need to know about patient access WiFi for your hospital.

 

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Claire Bradley

Claire Bradley

Claire Bradley

Claire is a strategic marketer with over 10 years’ experience of managing market-leading brands. She is a collaborative and customer-focused marketer with a proven track record of driving growth and share. She is responsible for the marketing strategy and brand communications for WiFi SPARK.