IPTV Offers Hospitals New and More Cost Effective Ways to Deliver Improved Experiences for Patients, Families…and Staff
Hospitals across the country — indeed around the world — have been challenged with managing an array of overlapping video delivery technologies to address the needs of different constituencies in the communities they serve. Over the years, hospitals have invested in:
- Traditional coaxial-based cable TV infrastructures for entertainment programming to patients’ rooms and visitors in common areas.
- Separate video communications infrastructures to support the clinical, business and security needs of healthcare providers and administrators.
- Interactive digital signage networks — the latest category of video communications — to guide, educate and direct patients, visitors and staff throughout public spaces in their facilities.
The emergence of these separate infrastructures made sense based on the state of technology that existed at the time that investments were made. However, the rise — and rapid maturation — of IPTV technology over the past few years has created an opportunity for hospitals to consolidate and reduce their infrastructure spend, while creating new levels of control and agility that can greatly enhance the experience of patients and visitors, as well as elevate the productivity of staff.
To learn more about the role that IPTV is playing in hospital settings, we caught up with Michael Chorpash, Vice President of Enterprise Solutions at VITEC, a leading provider of business video technology products and services.
Here is what he had to say:
Q: To kick things off, can you give us a sense of what the current state of video is among hospitals today?
A: Sure. When it comes to video services, the situation in hospitals today is, for the most part, highly fragmented and very complex. Separate solutions…and indeed entire infrastructures…have been created to discreetly support dedicated video applications.
For instance, specific technology solutions have been deployed to serve the entertainment needs of patients in their rooms as well as visitors who congregate in common waiting areas for different lengths of time. This use-case is supported with traditional — and expensive — coaxial cable infrastructures that provide traditional, one-way delivery of standard programming.
As digital signage technology has evolved to replace static physical placards, posters and bulletin boards, separate networks have emerged to deliver specific communications to different parts of the facilities. These can be procedural instructions about best practices, but they can also carry promotional messages depending on what is appropriate for the hospital or a particular department.
Finally — just like many other enterprises — there are professional video applications that have been deployed to support doctors, nurses and other healthcare workers, as well as the administrative staff. These are people who may need access to training programs or who simply need to participate in video conferences. Other applications would include closed-circuit coverage of surgical procedures as well security and safety monitoring throughout the facility.
For many — if not most — hospitals, these different applications are highly siloed and supported by dedicated infrastructures and dedicated staff. There is little opportunity to integrate these environments. As a result, these infrastructures are: quite complicated; rigid from the standpoint of moving terminals or making other changes; and they are expensive to both install and maintain. In short these separate environments consume significant time, money and human resources. This fragmented approach leads to major capital and operational expenditures.
Q: So how are hospitals addressing these cost trends, and what role can IPTV play in streamlining the delivery of video services to all of the different constituencies?
A: There is growing recognition of how IPTV can consolidate these different applications onto a single data network that is managed and controlled in a more automated fashion by the information technology staff.
Where we are seeing this manifested most is in new constructions and renovations. Most hospital administrators who are adding a new wing or building are pretty much scrapping the deployment of new c
oaxial networks for dedicated cable services and just sending all the video traffic over the internet protocol data network. It is saving a lot of money on technology deployment and construction costs.
IPTV is also creating other opportunities to streamline operations and improve service to staff and patients. Many hospitals, in addition to operating major facilities, also run smaller clinics throughout the communities that they serve. The open, intelligent nature of IPTV networks makes it possible for IT staff to remotely manage and service video offerings to these clinics. This elevates the patient and employee experience, making it consistent across the network of locations served by hospitals.
Beyond this, the entire community benefits from consistent security and management controls. Policies can be implemented, monitored and enforced to deliver the content and video services that are appropriate for each location in a more automated and governed manner. In short, more value can be delivered at a lower cost and with fewer human resources.
Q: So they can manage more facilities from a central location using an IPTV environment?
A: Exactly. Not only can they manage all traffic from a central network operating center, they can also automate processes, to ensure that any message that is sent out dynamically to any of the TV sets or digital signage terminals. They can schedule messages to be delivered throughout the day — or even the week, the month and the year. But just as importantly, they can immediately interrupt the programming in case of an emergency.
Digital signage in an emergency room, for instance, can be used to provide staff with incoming intelligence from first responders who are bringing patients in after a major crash or other catastrophic event.
Another example of how IPTV can be utilized is by leveraging the ability to integrate technologies to manage populations within facilities. Application program interfaces can be used to link sensors across public spaces to the IPTV network. If sensors detect too many people congregating in a particular room, digital signage can be used to move people to other waiting areas. This is particularly important today as hospitals — more than any other environments — are under pressure to manage social distancing and avoiding unnecessarily dense gatherings of people. The potential associated with integrating the current video infrastructures are endless.
Q: What about security considerations? How should hospitals approach IPTV from a risk management perspective?
A: It is very difficult to imagine an environment where security, risk management — and solid governance in general — is more important. IPTV offers an opportunity to touch patients and staff to deliver content and video services in a very effective manner. It also provides an opportunity to capture valuable insights about what people like, dislike, use and don’t use.
For this reason, it is critically important to have robust security and risk management measures in place to protect the assets and information that is flowing through the IPTV network. That is why, at VITEC, we apply security measures developed for military and intelligence agencies to deliver Department of Defense-grade encryption technology.
Q: How is VITEC supporting efforts by hospitals to get the most out of their investments in video technology-based solutions and services?
A: VITEC offers hospitals a centralized solution to address the full spectrum of video requirements by leveraging IPTV technology. Hospitals can use the VITEC IPTV platform to dynamically manage content in a very granular manner to provide different constituencies with the services they need to elevate satisfaction levels and — in many cases — to improve productivity.
By granular, I mean that hospitals can tailor the delivery of specific content based on who individuals — or groups — are by allowing IT departments to leverage role-based access control. Our solutions make it easier for hospitals to offer patients and their families with managed access to different categories of content — whether it is video on demand, live, or custom media created specifically for the hospital — in a cost-efficient and technologically effective manner.
Many of the legacy systems currently in place are expensive for a variety of reasons. The capital outlays to purchase and install are costly. Many of the solutions in place have high recurring costs based on per-seat fees.
Not only are VITEC’s IPTV solutions delivered without recurrent licensing fees, the same infrastructure and personnel can be leveraged to manage immersive IPTV signage and other business video requirements that hospitals may have.
Listen to Michael Chorpash, Vice President of Enterprise Solutions at VITEC, discuss the the role that IPTV is playing in hospital settings and the benefits of VITEC’s business video technology products and services.
Learn more about VITEC’s EZ TV IPTV Solution