In many instances Health Trusts have contracted out the provision of bedside TV’s (and phone services) to provide, independent companies such as Patientline. These organisations will need to ensure that TV services, for patients, are provided after switchover in conjunction with the property managers for the hospitals in which they are operating.
Where hospitals have older systems and services are provided through a communal TV aerial, then it will have to take some action to continue to offer a full range of TV services. The easiest way of adapting an existing analogue system to receive digital is to provide each television with a digital box. Provided the aerial is of the correct type and is in good condition, and the system of cables distributing signals to the rooms is adequate, this should allow the full range of digital terrestrial services to be made available through the existing or upgraded Master Antennae TV system (MATV). This may be a satisfactory arrangement for fixed TVs in waiting areas, staff rest rooms etc. but the digital box may have to be secured to the TV set that are not in a fixed location. In addition two remote control handsets are required, one for the TV and one for the digital box.
- Replacing the analogue televisions with Integrated Digital Televisions (IDTVs)
- Installing one digital receiver centrally for each service to be carried distribution box
- Installing an integrated reception service (IRS). This can carry both free to air and satellite services giving viewers a choice of services. However, in a hospital situation the property manager is likely to determine the options and platform offered.
Subscription-free satellite services
About 96-98% of households can receive satellite. If terrestrial digital television is not available, rather than waiting for switchover a satellite solution could be installed now. The services carried on analogue terrestrial television (BBCI. BBC2, ITV, C4 and Five) and many more are available from satellite without a subscription through Freesat.
Many hospitals have outsourced these services but could provide it themselves, to generate revenue by offering pay TV to patients. Where these systems are supplied and maintained by a service provider, they should be able to make all the necessary changes to ensure a smooth transition through switchover. These systems generally also offer digital terrestrial television and so will need attention to cope with switchover. Hospitals wishing to offer patients a wider range of channels may also use the Sky subscription service. The hospital or service provider contracts with BSkyB, and pays a fee related to the number of rooms/beds and the number and types of channel taken.
IPTV (Internet Protocol Television)
This is a means of delivering television services over broadband. At present we are unaware of any commercial services intended for hospital applications. However, the availability of IPTV is likely to become more widespread over the next few years, and may become suitable for delivery to hospitals. IPTV can however be used for distribution within a hospital.
Televisions for use in hospitals
It is possible to use ordinary televisions, intended for domestic use, on many hospital systems. However, there are televisions with features particularly suited to hospitals including:
- The ability to lock many of the controls, such as tuning and brightness, so that users are unable to change them;
- The ability to configure all the settings on the television in a few seconds, via a special programming device;
- A clock and alarm that turns on the television.
Some televisions with alarms clocks extract the time from Teletext signals which are only available on analogue transmissions. At present most digital receivers do not generate any form of Teletext time signal for setting the clock.
The absence of Teletext signals means that all Teletext services will be unavailable, as will subtitling for the hard of hearing. Although there are digital versions of Teletext.
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