Patient Infotainment Systems: A New Way to Communicate
Today, hospitals face growing pressure to inform better and to perform better. Cost-containment of healthcare is a national issue; regulation and oversight are on the increase; payers want better efficiency and better outcomes; and the public wants information with which to make better, more informed choices.
Patient "infotainment" systems are one means by which hospitals can engage patients and their families better in the healthcare process. These systems use TVs or computer monitors to give patients access to a variety of entertainment, informational or educational content. Sometimes the display is mounted on a swing-arm near the bed, in which case the patient controls the system through buttons on the TV or by a touch-screen. Alternatively, when the display is mounted on the wall across the room, the patient usually interacts with it through the pillow speaker that is also part of the nurse-call system.
Besides entertainment (TV, movies, Internet, games), these systems offer a wide variety of personalized information about the hospital, the specific team of care-givers for the patient, treatment plans and options, post-discharge instructions, etc. Patients can indicate preferences for meals, learn more about their medical condition and provide feedback on their hospital experience.
A growing number of these systems are being integrated with patient medical records, laboratory results and other clinical information specific to the patient. Some of them even offer "tele-visitation" capabilities by which family members may send pictures, messages and e-cards for viewing by the patient.
Variations of these patient infotainment systems can be used in extended-care facilities or even in the home. Such solutions are especially promising for improving the quality of life and independence of seniors, who can communicate with friends and family, receive personalized health information & recommendations, set personal alarms as reminders for medication, etc. Furthermore, family and healthcare professionals can check in remotely, to confirm the seniors are doing well. Ultimately, these systems could become the foundation for telemedicine, when integrated with real-time telemetry of patient vital statistics, electronic medical records and/or personal health records.
It seems likely the convergence between patient infotainment systems and clinical information will only increase in the next few years. Where do you see the opportunities -- and the pitfalls -- for patient infotainment systems?