How IPTV can improve hospital service
Michael Chorpash, Vice President at VITEC, explains the benefits of Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) for hospital patients, their families and staff
Internet Protocol Television (IPTV) is rapidly emerging as a critical element in the digital transformation initiatives of hospitals looking for opportunities to reduce costs, elevate efficiency and harness intelligent automation to improve the experiences of patients, visitors and staff alike.
According to analysts at Frost & Sullivan, the widespread outbreak of COVID-19 across the world has overburdened hospitals with a huge influx of patients. Traditional hospitals that rely on manual and analog methods have been unable to handle the huge patient load with limited resources. As hospitals embark on initiatives to improve outcomes, administrators are looking for ways to divert non-clinical resources to activities that contribute to the health and wellbeing of patients under their care.
It is in this context that current video systems are being reevaluated to determine how they support a variety of applications in hospitals. In addition to offering in-room entertainment to patients, video today is being used to:
• Keep hospital staff informed of important developments in their facilities;
• Train and educate doctors and nurses; and
• Communicate important messages -- through digital signage -- to visitors and personnel in common waiting areas.
When it comes to video services however, the current situation in hospitals is, for the most part, highly fragmented and very complex. Separate solutions -- and indeed entire infrastructures -- have been created to support different video applications. This leaves hospital leadership with the task of managing an array of overlapping video delivery technologies to address the needs of the diverse constituencies they serve.
It is not uncommon to find hospitals using a mix of coaxial-based cable TV, closed-circuit video communications and proprietary digital signage networks. Each of these highly siloed applications often require dedicated infrastructures and staff. This leads to major capital and operational expenditures.
As hospitals explore their technology modernization options, there is growing recognition that IPTV can be an ideal solution for addressing the full array of hospital video needs.
IPTV Addresses the Complexity and Cost of Legacy Video in Hospitals
IPTV consolidates multiple applications onto a single data network which can be centrally managed and controlled in an automated fashion. Hospitals can tailor the delivery of specific content in a secure and efficient manner based on who individuals -- or groups -- are, by allowing IT departments to leverage role-based access control and advanced encryption technologies on their enterprise networks.
This solution makes it easier for hospitals to provide patients, visitors and staff with managed access to different categories of content -- whether it is video on demand, live broadcasts, or proprietary hospital programming. In so doing, it allows hospital leaders to deliver more value with fewer resources.
IPTV also creates opportunities to streamline operations and improve service to administrative and clinical functions. Many hospitals, in addition to operating central facilities, also run smaller clinics throughout the communities they serve. The open, intelligent nature of IPTV networks makes it possible for IT staff to remotely manage and deliver consistent video-based services to these clinics. This elevates the patient experience and improves employee productivity.
Security a Major IPTV Benefit for Hospitals
Hospitals deal with the most sensitive categories of personal information. Patient data is governed by an increasingly complex array of federal, state and local rules designed to protect consumers as the volume of data generated -- and consumed -- by hospitals rises exponentially.
It is for this reason that the most effective IPTV solutions utilize security measures based on technology developed for military and intelligence agencies to deliver Department of Defense-grade encryption technology. This ensures that all video services delivered over a hospital’s enterprise network are protected to ensure the privacy of patients and security of content is continuously maintained.
In short, effectively deployed IPTV strategies can play an important role in helping hospitals modernize their technology infrastructures to enable truly patient-centric operations.
NHS staff face severe impact on mental health due to COVID
The decision to drop COVID-19 restrictions in England this month alarmed doctors in the National Health Service (NHS) while hospitalisations are on the rise. At the same time, hospitals have started cancelling operations again adding to the existing backlog of operations, which estimates say could take a year to clear.
Dr James Gilleen of the University of Roehampton and his Covida Project team are warning of the ongoing risks to the mental health of NHS staff, many of whom are traumatised from the first wave of infections. “As the UK continues to see COVID-19 infection numbers rise at a similarly alarming rate as those seen during the country’s second wave, it’s combined with a renewed strain on the NHS and its staff" he said.
The Covida Project is a digital tool created to assess the psychological impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on frontline workers including NHS staff, the police and carers.
“Healthcare workers are already exhausted and burnt-out; they are traumatised from their experiences of working during the pandemic. During the first wave in May 2020, a study from the Covida Project found an unprecedented quadrupling of the number of NHS staff with high levels of anxiety, depression and post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) compared to before Covid-19" Gilleen said.
"Having the most severe levels of these symptoms was statistically linked to four key factors - insufficient access or pressure to reuse Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), insufficient workplace preparation, insufficient training and communications, and a higher workload. Staff aren’t just anxious, depressed and traumatised from being over-worked – it is from feeling unsafe and at risk."
The Covida Project found that almost a third of healthcare workers reported moderate to severe levels of anxiety and depression. The number reporting very high symptoms was four times higher than before the pandemic.
Gilleen adds, “With COVID-19 restrictions now fully removed in England, NHS staff face the daunting triple-threat of rising Covid-19 hospitalisations, huge backlogs of medical operations to clear, and the added expectation of large increases in winter flu, which is already being seen even now in summer.
"These difficulties are present at a time when the NHS is already under-resourced, impacted by sickness and/or staff being ‘pinged’ to self-isolate through the government’s track and trace app, and staff continuing to fear the daily risk of infecting family and friends.
"Together these are considerable psychological burdens and create a perfect storm for the mental health and well-being of NHS staff."
Gilleen says there may be worse to come, especially if new, more transmissible variants develop. "Previous research after other pandemics such as SARS has shown that residual mental health symptoms like PTSD can continue for years, so the impact of repeated waves over the long-term will be potentially catastrophic for the mental health of NHS staff.
He has some clear recommendations to protect the wellbeing of frontline healthcare workers. “To protect the mental health of NHS staff they must feel they are less at risk or in danger, have access to the required level of PPE, not be continuously over-worked, with better staffing, more opportunities for rest and space to share their stress.
"Despite this and similar findings from other studies, still not enough is being done to protect NHS staff mental health and wellbeing and we fear it will continue to suffer in the months to come. With this comes the real risk that large numbers of staff will burn out or even quit the NHS.”