Metro Health puts video over IP network to educate and entertain its patients
by Wendy Ellis, AV Technology Magazine
Patients might find themselves looking for the mint on their pillow after a day or two at the new Metro Health Hospital near Grand Rapids, Michigan. It’s just the kind of personalized service one might expect from a five star hotel — meals delivered to your private room, seemingly endless choices of television and movies
on big screen TVs — even wireless internet access when and where you want it.
Since opening the doors to a brand new 208 bed facility just over a year ago, Metro Health has been receiving high
marks for patient satisfaction, not just for its cutting edge health care technology but for its innovative IP-based patient education and entertainment system that goes above and beyond the norm.
Finding the right fit
IP-based entertainment systems caught the eye of Metro Hospital planners long before the first brick was laid. Since the new hospital would already have an IP infrastructure, running coaxial cable seemed redundant and too limiting. “At that point you’re creating an isolated technology,” says Metro Health IT Manager Art King. “It’s the delivery of TV and end of story.”
Metro wanted far more than TV, but finding a system that gave them everything they wanted wasn’t easy. Many of the IP based systems they looked at offered no flexibility in terms of content and were basically leased, not owned. “They wanted you to pay per patient room, per day,” says King. “Whether there was a patient in there or not.”
In the end, Metro Health found the answer right down the road at Optimal Solutions, Inc, a Wyoming, Michigan firm
that has been offering TCP/IP video management and delivery in educational settings for a dozen years, but had never ventured into the health care market.
“Optimal as a company has always looked for technological solutions in the IP space,” says Scott King, Optimal’s
Director of Convergent Technologies. “Metro Health approached us knowing that we were doing an IP based delivery of video and asked if it would work in their environment. The answer was ‘No,’ because we designed our system specifically for education, but we were very interested in developing something for them because if seemed to fit our mission.”
Optimal’s eVideon Software is a cataloguing and management tool for digital video assets designed originally for the K-12 market. Using that as a cornerstone, and the hospital’s specifications for the new system’s scope, Optimal created an entirely new application designed specifically for the needs of the health care industry, then utilized IPTV technology to merge the systems.
Plays well with others
At the new hospital, a rooftop satellite dish brings in 64 TV channels. Each channel is sent to a receiver, then to its
own Visionary Solutions AVN220 encoder blade, which digitizes the signal and sends it on to the hospital’s TCP/IP network. A trio of eVideon servers at the Data Head End acts as control center.
The first server manages and categorizes all digital media—live TV, 60 movies on demand, and over 400 patient education videos. Those videos and the movies are stored on the second server to be accessed when a patient calls for them. The third server manages the Amino set top boxes (also supplied by Visionary Solutions). “There’s nothing sexy about that server,” says Scott King.” It offers extended control of the set top boxes at each TV location. If I want to send a command to all the STBs at once, in case of emergency or something like that, I can do that with this server.”
Because the entertainment system is IP based, Optimal installers were able to connect it to the hospital’s HL7 network, a nationally accepted protocol that allows health systems to talk to each other. By connecting the IP network to the HL7, the system can access all patient records, entertainment, educational videos, even admissions information.
Getting to know you
“Basically, if you’re a patient here, when you get to your room the TV screen is going to welcome you by name,” says Bill Lewkowski, Executive Vice President and CIO at Metro Health. “It knows who you are and why you’re here.”
Once a patient is registered and given a bed, the software automatically assigns appropriate videos to that room. Since all rooms are private, the media content can be personalized. A 7 year old child isn’t going to have access to PG-13 movies. A cardiac patient may have heart education videos available. A newly diagnosed diabetic will find insulin information and how-to videos among his choices. With over 400 patient education videos in the system, physicians are still reviewing all the videos to make sure the content is correct. Article continues….
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