Ticket to satisfaction: Personal movie players

Movies distract, reduce anxiety for family members

Your front desk staff members have to be courteous, friendly, and patient, even when they are asked, "How is my family member doing?" for the 10th time in a two-hour period.

Televisions in the lobby and magazines don’t always provide enough entertainment to keep family members from anxiously watching the clock. One outpatient surgery program has found that personal DVD players with movies chosen from a library of movie titles at the facility have made the wait more enjoyable and less stressful for many people.

Being able to choose a movie and watch it without disturbing other people in the waiting room is ideal for same-day surgery, says Cathy Boyer, director of guest relations for Riddle Memorial Hospital in Philadelphia. "Feedback from family members and staff members has been positive."

Because family members are so engrossed in their movies, time passes more quickly, she explains. "Staff members report that there are fewer visits to the receptionist to check on patients because they are able to take their mind off their family members’ surgery," Boyer adds.

Because Boyer’s facility is part of a pilot project, Careflix, the Philadelphia-based company that developed the service, is handling distribution of the DVDs throughout the hospital as they are requested. Even without the help from the vendor, managing the program in a same-day surgery program will be simple, she predicts.

"You do need a small, lockable cabinet to hold the DVD players and the movies, but it doesn’t require a great deal of space," Boyer explains. "The receptionist for same-day surgery can explain the program with the help of brochures provided by the vendor, and the family member simply signs a checkout sheet for the movie, headset, and player," she points out.

The players are designed to handle two headsets at once, so two members of the family can watch at the same time, Boyer adds.

While hospitals that make the program available to inpatients and other departments might want to charge for use of the equipment to cover staff costs, Careflix CEO Jonathan Bebo does not recommend that same-day surgery programs charge for the service. "The financial benefits to a same-day surgery program are larger if the service is provided for free," he says. "Patient satisfaction and positive word-of-mouth advertising for the facility will outweigh the low cost of this service," he says.

Costs for starting the program vary according to size of the same-day surgery program, but most programs only would need three players with headsets and the start-up library, says Bebo. "This would mean an initial investment of $995 and a monthly subscription fee of $95," he says. The subscription fee charged by his company covers repair or replacement of DVD players, technical support, and updates to the movie library each month, he says.

The initial library consists of about 20-25 movies and four to five new releases are added monthly, says Bebo. "The same-day surgery program keeps all of their movies so that the library continues to grow," he says. "Staff training is minimal, and we provide that as well."

Movies for the program are chosen carefully, points out Bebo. "We tailor movies provided to each facility on the demographics of the facility," he says. "For example, a same-day surgery program with an older population will have classics such as Casablanca or Gone with the Wind available," he explains. "We also like to include comedies such as Patch Adams, and we make sure the movies are medically sensitive and will not be upsetting to family members as they wait," he says. Movies or shows of varying lengths are offered so family members can choose a video that will be completed in the time that they will wait, Bebo adds.

Staff members also appreciate the convenience of checking out a movie as they head home, says Boyer. "Staff members can sign for a movie then return it a few days later," she says. If the movie is lost or destroyed, staff members are responsible for the replacement cost, she adds.

At this time, Bebo says he is not aware of another company offering this service specifically to health care facilities or to other businesses. While a same-day surgery program could set this up without the help of a vendor such as his company, the program would have to be ready to handle maintenance, repair, and replacement of equipment as well as updates to the movie library on a regular basis, Bebo points out.

The main benefit of a program such as this is improved patient satisfaction, says Boyer. "Improved patient satisfaction is an important focus of all health care performance improvement programs and accreditation agencies," she says. "This type of service is an easy, inexpensive way to make time in a waiting room less stressful for our patients’ family members and improve their satisfaction with our service."


For more information about movies in the waiting room, contact:

  • Jonathan Bebo, Chief Executive Officer, Careflix, 2121 Market St., Suite 522, Philadelphia, PA 19103. Telephone: (267) 346-2326. E-mail: bebo@careflix.com. Web: www.careflix.com.
  • Cathy Boyer, Director, Guest Relations, Riddle Memorial Hospital, 1068 W. Baltimore Pike, Media, PA 19063. Telephone: (610) 566-9400, ext. 3686. E-mail: cboyer@riddlehospital.org.