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Hospital room TVs have become interactive portals to a better patient experience.
Sometimes, big changes in how we work and live are driven by technology. Think smartphones, for example. At other times, social change and technological innovation dovetail perfectly to help us reimagine what we do.
In healthcare, over the last decade, the focus on outcomes-based care has coincided perfectly with advances in network-based communication to open a new world of patient experience solutions that produce results for hospitals and the public. And with the coronavirus pandemic upending various aspects of healthcare delivery, this new breed of solutions, built on a foundation of secure, integrated networks and smart digital devices, can help healthcare providers meet the challenge.
“This idea of better providing services to patients, helping them stay informed and engaged during the course of their stay — educated about why they’re there, how they can get services and, ultimately, empowering them to be active participants in their care — has become the foundation of our software development,” explains Robin Cavanaugh, chief technology officer at GetWellNetwork, a company that offers the GetWell Inpatient, which creates personalized, digital workflows to engage patients in their care. “We’ve found innovative ways to deliver that experience on devices in the hospital environment.”
Chief among those devices is the in-room television. Along with the ubiquitous pillow speaker, the hospital TV tends to become the center of a patient’s world during a hospital stay. Until recently, the TV was a one-way entertainment medium. Today, it’s a smart, networked internet display capable of much more: entertainment, for sure, but also personalized education, information, interaction, and — increasingly — face-to-face communication.
“For so long, you’ve had this old TV mounted in the corner, offering little information and keeping patients somewhat disconnected from everything around them,” Cavanaugh says. “We’ve spent a lot of time trying to improve that experience, first by deploying capabilities in set-top boxes and now by aggressively integrating networked patient solutions into a new breed of smart TVs.”
Smart TVs Support a Variety of Healthcare Solutions
Smart TVs combine a traditional TV display with a built-in computing device and network connection. This all-in-one design makes them more reliable and manageable. “They eliminate external TV components, so they’re easy to install in rooms,” says Dennis Mathur, Senior Vice President of Technology at Boston-based Aceso, developer of digital solutions for delivering personalized content and services to patients. “For installation, all that smart TVs need is a network connection. At the same time, they integrate with important in-room devices, such as pillow speakers.”
Companies like Aceso, GetWellNetwork, MDM Healthcare, Sonifi Health, TeleHealth Services and TVR pCare have reinvented patient experience using the tried-and-true television system as a healthcare portal. Their comprehensive offerings vary, but when a healthcare provider has the right information technology infrastructure in place and a network of smart TVs — securely integrated with electronic medical records (EMR) and other systems — each solution can deliver a variety of patient amenities in support of outcomes-based care, including:
A Holistic, Digital Patient Experience
Patient experience solutions aren’t confined to in-room TVs. These platforms can also support content and communications on digital signage throughout a facility; on digital versions of the in-room white board, where patients and healthcare providers can easily post and update information about treatment; on small, electronic signs outside the room; and increasingly, on the mobile devices of patients and their family.
Technology providers continue to innovate patient experience delivery over these platforms, based largely on the goals of healthcare providers. MDM Healthcare, based in Ponte Vedra Beach, Florida, has taken its Journey PX patient experience solution and deployed it in a HIPPA-compliant cloud, offering hospitals a flexible way to build a system, especially if their budget and technology infrastructure are limited.
“It’s important, especially with COVID-19, to be able to provide more content outside the hospital,” says Themis Koumoutseas, MDM Healthcare’s Vice President of Technical Operations. “With a solution like this, hospitals can improve patient satisfaction and reduce readmissions.”
Every provider’s goals might be different, which is why all these solutions can be tailored to deliver the needed outcomes. A pervasive smart TV infrastructure helps make it possible.
“We take all the feedback we get from the healthcare systems we work in and share them with our technology provider,” says GetWellNetwork’s Cavanaugh. "These hospitals are spending time and money to create an environment that is welcoming and conducive to healing, as well as aesthetically pleasing. The TV is central to that effort.”
Tom Mottlau is director of Health Care and Emerging Markets at LG Business Solutions USA.