IPTV service a shot in the arm for hospital patients

Jim Barthold, FierceIPTVA decade-and-a-half and a lifetime ago, I spent a week in the hospital. And, while I assure you the visit was necessary to restore a seriously diminished life essence, it proved to be more painful than just becoming a pincushion for needle-waving student nurses.

When I wasn't poked, prodded, needled and tested, I was bored. Any form of entertainment--other than annoying nurses and doctors with my ongoing illness--was as vacant as a clean vein in my arm.

I wrote about this inhospitable experience at the time and even went so far as to suggest that the first cable operator willing to deliver even a modicum of quality TV entertainment to patients would rake in the big bucks and endear itself to millions of captive viewers once they were released from the steel beds.

As with most things I wrote then--and write now--no one took notice other than to voice displeasure over some references I made to then-leading cable operator TCI being akin to visiting a dentist. Aside from that, the idea of actually providing viable entertainment, let alone information, to hospital patients was treated as a communicable disease that you just didn't want to touch.

That's why it's so heartening today to see the spread of IPTV as an entertainment and information source for hospital patients; not because I had the idea 15 years ago or have any plans to leave the golf course and visit South Jersey Medical Center, but because there appears to be a true collaboration these days between content delivery providers and healthcare facilities, with vendors actually building equipment and networks to facilitate a flow of information and entertainment. It is only slightly depressing that this sort of progress is still newsworthy, since one would have hoped that modern technology would have caught up with our healthcare system.

Anyway, check out the story in today's newsletter about St. Mary's Medical Center in Indiana, which has embraced IPTV as the way to deliver patient information and, almost as an afterthought, entertainment to its patients. Not remarkably, the story also notes that targeted patient information actually helps people move on to a healthier lifestyle.

I compare that to my experience 15 years ago where my entertainment was a snowy cable TV picture with a few unwatchable channels; a roommate who, for unknown reasons, turned on his television at full volume at 3:00 a.m. just as I finally stopped gasping for breath long enough to fall asleep; and a handheld Yahtzee game my sister gave me to keep me from pondering the fact that I was essentially at death's door.

Here's the thing: a hospital patient can physically feel as if he's on death row, but he doesn't need an entertainment/information system that reinforces the dread.

IPTV is the perfect conduit for delivering upbeat and informational content to a downbeat and in-need-of-help captive audience. It won't cure what ails them, but, like a sugar coated pill, it will make things go down a little easier and, perhaps, relieve some of the pain.--Jim