More often than not, hospital rooms are outfitted with a simple television, tethered to a bed that provides poor audio and
a basic remote control. But, under increased pressure to improve patient satisfaction, hospitals are now looking at new ways
to boost patient morale. One way they are doing this is by providing some comforts of home, such as on-demand television and
This upgraded technology, still in its infancy at the hospital level, offers a host of potential opportunities for pharma
companies to market their products through health-education videos and branded "info-tainment." Pharm Exec spoke with Dave Schofield, president and CEO of broadband connectivity provider Skylight Healthcare Systems, about how improved
technologies in hospital rooms can provide pharma marketers with a new method of reaching a captive audience.
Beyond Television Dave Schofield, Skylight Healthcare Systems
Pharm Exec: Why are hospitals incentivized to upgrade their systems?
Schofield: The general population expects it. A guest can go into any hotel today, and if it doesn't have high-speed Internet, if it
doesn't have cable TV programming, if it doesn't have movies on demand—the hotel can't be competitive. Many people are accustomed
to high-end communication services at home and at the office. So, it's natural to provide that experience in the hospital
Hospitals need to do this for competitive reasons and to improve their patient-satisfaction or SAT scores. With HCAHPS [Hospital
Consumer Assessment of Healthcare Providers and Systems] coming, the visibility of SAT scores—a ranking of hospitals locally
and regionally—they're doing whatever they can. Keep in mind: A lot of hospital executives are bonused on patient-satisfaction
How prevalent is broadband access in hospitals right now?
Most established hospitals today do not have high-speed Internet access in patient rooms. However, more and more hospitals
are including broadband in their plans as they expand or upgrade wings, or build new towers. Probably less than 10 percent
of the hospitals out there have wired their patient rooms for broadband.
How many hospitals currently offer health education this way?
Our market niche is new. There's probably less than 150 of our type of systems installed in the whole industry, and we have
about 35 to 40 in that range. We'll probably double that in 2007. I think interactive communication in the patient room will
grow 100 percent every single year for the next three to five years. So within five years, our system, or one of our competitors',
will become a new standard within hospitals.
Are hospitals required to offer some level of health education?
JCAHO [Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations] requires hospitals to deliver to the patient, during
their hospital stay, a certain amount of health education based on their respective disease state. Our system can send customized
and automated health education right to the patient, based on their disease state.
For example, if a patient is diabetic, the nurse education team can say, "Listen, at the end of 24 hours we want you to send
that diabetic patient video number one. At the end of 48 hours, video number two. At the end of 72 hours, video number three."
The nurses can do this in a way that is completely automated, so they don't have to wheel in a VCR on a cart. It's not a pre-timed,
pre-scheduled loop; it's completely on demand. Or, the patients can access it on their own. They can go into our system, click
on "health education," navigate to the diabetes section, and watch a video on the disease.