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Past, Present and Future of Hospital Bedside Units

10 minute read | 30/08/2022

Past, Present and Future of Hospital Bedside Units

Two decades ago, patients had no access to simple services like a telephone at the bedside. They couldn’t have any digital entertainment such as TV and radio when bed bound in Hospital. But that has changed. Come along for a journey where we explore the past, present, and future of patient entertainment and engagement through different platforms. 

Past: Patientline and Hospedia

T2 TV Bedside Unit

Patientline was founded in 1994 and known as the company to bring TV, radio, and telephone to the bedside. Keeping patients entertained and connected to loved ones can help their mental health, and therefore, allow them to recover faster. Patientline installed the units that we know today as T2. You have to use a remote control to use them and the features available in today’s day and age are considered limited, however back then, this was a great step forward in transforming patient entertainment.  


T3 TV Bedside UnitHospedia then acquired Patientline in 2008. They worked on a newer model of the BSUs (Bedside Units) which are the T3s. These are lighter, easier to manoeuvre, touch screen, and provide more entertainment options. However, they were made in 2011 and therefore aren’t up to date with the type of technology we are used to today. Both of these systems also require the patient to pay for most of the entertainment.  

Learn about what's available on these units


Present: WiFi SPARK with BSU and SPARK® Media on BYOD (Bring Your Own Device)

After Volaris’s acquisition of Hospedia in 2021, WiFi SPARK and Hospedia partnered up under the leadership of WiFi SPARK. As a united company, we have worked on making the maintenance service more efficient, educated staff and patients about what is free to access, expanded free TV to all Freeview channels rather than just channels 1-5, and much more. While these old units still have some great features, such as the NHS Health Index, Patient Safety Video, Movies, and Audio Books to name a few. They don’t provide as much as SPARK® Media. They can’t be moved from the bedside, and the patient still has to pay for most of the entertainment options.  

SPARK® Media is our BYOD solution that many people of the younger generation choose to use when being admitted into hospital, given they have a smart device to hand. We have created a platform that anyone can access for free by simply signing into our WiFi. This gives the user access to:  


  • TV (including catch up) 
  • Radio 
  • Newspapers & magazines 
  • Games 
  • Dementia support 
  • NHS apps
  • Charity links
  • Health videos
  • Films (bolt-on)
  • Video calling
  • Meal ordering
  • Hospital information


A multi-faceted solution is required to be digitally inclusive to include those who haven’t got their own device, or those who don’t want to hold their phone for hours on end to watch TV or use the entertainment facilities. 

Having a choice of access, this hybrid solution gives the Trust the flexibility to have Bedside units and SPARK® Media to cater to every patient’s needs. SPARK® Media is also very customisable. Depending on the Trust's needs, they can pick and choose from a range of applications.  

To find out more about the solution, click here.   

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Future: Horizon Units with SPARK® Media

In their prime, the bedside units were great, but are now outdated as technology moves on so quickly. SPARK® Media on the other hand, has more features than the bedside units, but you can only access it on your own device.  

So, what does the future hold?

We are combining SPARK® Media with our new and improved bedside unit called SPARK® Horizon. It’s essentially a large tablet which will replace the legacy units. They are designed to attach to existing infrastructure for an easy swap out, saving money and time. Here at WiFi SPARK we are creating the best of both worlds and bringing the NHS modern digitalisation. Between SPARK® Media and SPARK® Horizon, there will be: 



  • Unified Infrastructure 
  • Apps catalogue 
  • Patient/staff engagement 
  • Unified comms 
  • NHS roaming
  • Free at point of use 
  • Full BYOD & BSU solution combined 


The highlighting feature is our apps catalogue. It is designed to cover all healthcare bases with four engagement pages containing our range of apps. These pages cover: Trust services, patient care, charities, and our vast entertainment selection. Each engagement page has a selection of apps relevant to its page type. The only page that is slightly different is the entertainment page, which not only has apps but a range of Freeview TV and Radio entertainment channels. Download the SPARK® Horizon brochure.

Technology is constantly adapting and improving, which is why we do the same. We have taken learnt experiences from the past and move forward to provide an improved and more efficient service.   


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