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SPARK® TSL's Parent Company Acquires Hospedia with Plan to Transform Bedside Terminals

6 minute read | 02/11/2021

SPARK® TSL's Parent Company Acquires Hospedia with Plan to Transform Bedside Terminals

SPARK® TSL are the leading WiFi and entertainment provider to NHS Hospitals. With this acquisition, we plan to shift the business model for bedside entertainment terminals away from 'patient pays'. Our BYOD entertainment and engagement solution in hospitals has always been 'Free at the point of use'. This platform called SPARK® Media allows for additional upgrades enabling Trust-IT access for clinicians. We want the old Hospedia Units to remove the patient pays model and for Trusts to upgrade to a modern bedside unit.

Read how we're going to do it. 

A Brief History of Hospedia Bedside Units

Over 20 years ago, Patientline invested £150,000,000 worth of infrastructure for the NHS. This equated to theHospedia-Bedside-Unit-Touch-Screen installation of 56,500 bedside units across 160 hospitals. Making them the key supplier of bedside terminals to 75% of the UK's acute hospitals. Patientline were one of three companies to be awarded a national license to provide bedside entertainment and communications systems (BECS) through the government's Patient Power Initiative in 2000.

This mandated that all major NHS hospitals should provide the personal BECS for patients by 2004. Trusts and health boards were not required to cover the costs of the bedside units as per the initial contracts with Patientline, which resulted in patients having to pay for their usage. This patient pays model still stands today to keep the services running, but this model needs to change.

"The concept of patients paying to watch TV in the hospital seems unfair. We are turning this model around to provide a better system." - Matt O'Donovan

⚡1994 - Patientline was founded.

⚡2008 - Hospedia acquired Patientline.

⚡2021 - WiFi SPARK acquired Hospedia.

⚡2023 - WiFi SPARK and Hospedia rebranded to SPARK® TSL. 

WiFi SPARK/SPARK® TSL is a leading provider of commercial WiFi and media services to the healthcare, retail, transport, sport and exhibition space sectors. We already works with nearly 300 hospitals across more than 80 NHS Trusts and health boards in the UK and provides 24/7 support to customers. 


The Future of Hospedia Under SPARK® TSL

With the constant development of what new technology is capable of, these 50k+ units are steadily becoming outdated and outmoded. Nowadays, they’re comparable to a basic service rather than the high-quality experience patients deserve.

Trusts with the existing Bedside Units have two main options:

  • Cover the cost of TV services on the Bedside Units. (Approximately £1 per bed, per day)
  • Upgrade to SPARK® Horizon. This new age of bedside units provides access to applications. This includes streaming services, NHS resources, games, TV, radio and more. Most importantly, it'll all be free for patients.  

To achieve this, we need to work with the NHS and their charities to allow patient entertainment to be free on bedsideSPARK Horizon Homepage on Unit units. Although it would incur an additional capital cost, we hope Trusts and health boards will want to upgrade for a better patient experience and clinical access. 

Matt O'Donovan, believes the changes will be welcomed. "This provision will benefit Trusts the most, because the bedside terminals will become a proper asset, providing benefits both for patients and clinicians."

We have seen a significant increase in the usage of bedside units when TV is provided free of charge. A trial conducted at County Hospital (Stafford) showed a 15% rise in unit usage, from 25% when patients had to pay, to 40% when the service was free. This translates to a substantial increase in TV viewing hours, from 215 hours a day to 700 hours a day.

"For patients to be able to watch TV and to have access to other entertainment options on these units, free of charge, will be a real boost to their morale and recovery." - Matt O'Donovan.

The upgrade to SPARK® Horizon will be future-proof for at least 10 years and can be adapted to integrate clinical systems. It will host our SPARK® Media platform on modern tablets, specifically designed to utilise the existing arms from the Hospedia Bedside Units

"The units will become the iPhone of healthcare. They will give patients a unified experience to engage and entertain them, while linking patients and clinicians to the patient record in real-time, at the bedside. The SPARK® Media platform will support third-party applications, enabling the most up-to-date experience for patients and clinicians alike. This will be transformative for the NHS." - Matt O'Donovan.

Why did WiFi SPARK Acquire Hospedia?

Hospedia has long been a competitor of WiFi SPARK (now SPARK® TSL). We provided patients and staff with a complimentary service using their personal devices and internet connectivity. Why would patients pay for entertainment when they have access to it on their own devices?

However outdated the current bedside units may be, they hold a sense of familiarity for the elderly population who are less inclined to possess their own smart devices and have the knowledge to operate them. It is widely acknowledged that the elderly constitute a significant percentage of hospital patients. In fact, 

'People aged 65 and over account for over 40% of hospital admissions, occupy around two-thirds of hospital inpatient beds and are the most frequent users of health and social care services.' - BGS

Our solution is to have both the BYOD and Bedside Unit service in hospitals. This way, we're covering all elements of patient entertainment and engagement. But of course, we would struggle to do this without acquiring Hospedia because they would try to persuade Trusts against getting SPARK® Media. Both companies needed to be aligned so patients could get the best out of both systems and have a better patient experience. 

This acquisition was possible because of SPARK® TSL's parent company, Volaris Group.

Make patient Entertainment Free

Of course the other main reason to acquire Hospedia was to change the patient pays model. We initially thought this would be a relatively quick achievement. However, after being apart of Hospedia for over a year and a half, we realise it's going to be harder than we thought. The cost of TV goes towards the maintenance of the units which covers 24/7/365 support, health and safety checks, replacement of parts and the engineers that repair the units.

We would love to remove the patient pays model overnight. But if we did this with no alternative funding, hundreds of thousand of patients wouldn't have access to basic entertainment such as TV.

Learn about the Bedside Units
The bedside units have the capacity to host videos that aid in the discharge process, raise awareness about charitable initiatives, offer links to NHS resources and provide other functionalities. These attributes will contribute to addressing NHS challenges like delayed discharge and readmissions. All while enhancing the overall patient experience.

These features on the bedside units will help provide justification for the Trust and charities to fund the expense of the TV, or consider upgrading to the more contemporary SPARK® Horizon bedside unit.

Did we Capture your Interest?

Learn all about our WiFi service, SPARK® Media, SPARK® Horizon and the previous Hospedia Bedside Units in our combined Media brochure. Download below. 

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75% of patients want digital healthcare services

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