New in-room TVs part of service excellence

Wall-mounted sets made bedside care easier, safer

As part of a three-year cultural initiative called "Service Excellence," Norwalk (CT) Hospital is enacting a variety of programs to make patients more comfortable.

One program involves renovating all 238 rooms to create a more contemporary environment and better utilize space for greater efficiency in caring for patients, including the installation of Sharp Electronics’ AQUOS flat-panel liquid crystal display (LCD) televisions in every room.

In response to patient surveys indicating that televisions were among the least satisfactory amenities at Norwalk, hospital administrators worked with Mahwah, NJ-based Sharp Electronics Corp.’s Vertical Markets Group (VMG), which helps professionals in health care and other industries enhance room aesthetics and improve patient/customer care by utilizing AQUOS and other home entertainment products and appliances.

"In this case, we really learned a lot from Norwalk about what they needed," notes Jake Benner, product marketing specialist with Sharp.

There is a significant difference, not only in patient satisfaction, but in practical patient care and safety considerations, between the TVs Norwalk used in patient rooms before and the Sharp products. Patients at Norwalk used to watch TV on 5-inch monitors attached to the bed by a moveable steel arm. TV wires often were in the way of IV lines and the nurse call button.

Mounting AQUOS televisions on the walls made the patient’s area less cluttered and safer. The televisions are wall-mounted; the bracket offers three lockable pivot points, wire management, and swivels 270°, making the television viewable from nearly anywhere in the room. Additionally, the flat, white, 20-inch televisions maximize the rooms’ space and create an open, airy feel, blending with the new wall moldings and artwork to create a more pleasant atmosphere.

The hospital also identified benefits for nurses and physicians. "Norwalk tells us that the huge arms on the old TVs got in the way; nurses and patients banged their heads," Benner observes. "It’s also a safety issue; sometimes the patients would grab onto the huge arms to get out of bed, and they can actually almost rip the arm out of the wall."

This sounds all well and good, but don’t the TV’s represent an enormous extra expense that is difficult for budget-conscious hospitals to justify? Not necessarily, Benner says. "It’s hard to calculate a return on investment, but the cost of operation goes down every year, and when you look at the entire renovation budget, this is a relatively small line item."

Plus, he says, these LCD sets last a lot longer than more traditional TVs. "They can last 60,000 hours; at eight hours a day, that’s 20 years." In addition, there are huge maintenance savings; they used to send the CRTs [cathode ray tube TVs] out almost weekly, while LCDs need little or any maintenance. They also have lower power consumption than CRTs; when all 300-plus TVs are installed, you will see that reflected on the bottom line."

Another motivation Norwalk expressed was a desire to improve its Press Ganey Associates ratings on patient satisfaction. "This also sets them apart from the competition," Benner asserts.

So far, the response at Norwalk has been quite positive. "We started installing them a couple of months ago. We went in to interview a couple of people, and you expect to hear negatives along with positives, but we got no negatives. "The screen and picture are more comforting to the patient’s eye, and the remote is very user-friendly. There has not been one maintenance call," he says.

Staff have reported back that patients who are being transferred have begun to specifically request the renovated rooms. "It’s better for the patients and their visitors," Benner says. "It’s just more comfortable for everyone. And as patients who have stayed there go and talk to friends and family, it could also lead to increased business."

Need More Information?

For more information, contact:

• Sharp Electronics Corp., Sharp Plaza, Mahwah, NJ 07430. Phone: (800) BE SHARP or (800) 237-4277. Web: www.sharpusa.com.