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Why Free WiFi is One of the Big NHS Improvement and Innovation Ideas for Better Digital Inclusion

5 minute read | 20/07/2018

Why Free WiFi is One of the Big NHS Improvement and Innovation Ideas for Better Digital Inclusion

Digital Inclusion concerns the needs of all users. Every visitor and patient that passes through your hospital doors should have equal access to all digital services. People of all ages and abilities should not be excluded from vital online information. We’ll outline exactly what Digital Inclusion is and how free WiFi will lead to NHS improvement and innovation.

What is Digital Inclusion?

Digital Inclusion is about making sure that people have the capability to use the internet to do things that benefit them every day. The UK Government’s Digital Inclusion Strategy states that this is broken down into three key areas.

  • Accessibility - all digital services should be designed to meet the needs of all users. This should include anyone that is dependent on assistive technology.
  • Connectivity - people need to have the right infrastructure in place and access to the internet.
  • Digital Skills - the knowledge to be able to use the internet and computers.

Facing and overcoming all of these barriers would ensure that nobody is excluded and everyone has access to the same services and information.

What’s Stopping Your Hospital?

Your hospital should always be looking for ways to improve and innovate, whether it’s through treatments or patient services. Full Digital Inclusion would see all patients benefit from the same cutting-edge services, but some hospitals are struggling to reach this goal.

Hospitals in Scotland, Wales and South-West England are particularly poor when it comes to Digital Inclusion and there are a number of reasons for this.

Old Buildings

The older the building, the harder it is to implement new technologies. Materials like asbestos make it difficult to carry out major installations and many users experience mobile signal blackspots the deeper into an old hospital they are.

Expensive Hardware

Systems that require new hardware are often seen as being too expensive. It can be difficult to justify large spend on hardware for digital systems versus new life-saving equipment. Which is understandable, to say the least.

Hardware is also more likely to go out of date quickly and need replacing so it isn’t seen as being cost-effective in the long run.

Limited Use by the Elderly

There is a common misconception that digital technologies are ignored by the elderly. With an aging population, and the vast majority of patients being over 60, there needs to be technology catered for them. Many elderly patients use modern technology such as iPads and smart technology like TVs and mobile phones, in their day to day lives. There's a bigger need to implement modern day technology on patients own devices, and at the bedside, than Trusts might originally think.

How to Promote Digital Inclusion with Free WiFi

The NHS is looking to promote Digital Inclusion across the whole Trust, but there are some steps you can take within your hospital to make sure services are accessible by all.

The first step is to make sure visitors and patients have the best possible coverage when in your hospital. Determine if there are any black spots that can’t receive signal and let patients know with signs.

The easiest way to improve coverage throughout your hospital is with WiFi. Many people don’t have enough data to use 4G or 3G for long periods of time, so WiFi would give access for everyone.

Most hospitals have already implemented WiFi networks but not all of them offer the service for free to patients throughout the Trust. Some patients may not feel like they are able to justify spending money on WiFi and are therefore excluded from the service.

Free WiFi should be accessible on every device and multiple devices at the same time. A young mum may be trying to entertain her kids whilst waiting for an appointment. She should be able to use the WiFi on her phone to check important information and her tablet so her children can play games or watch cartoons.

To ensure your hospital is meeting Digital Inclusion targets, you should ensure the WiFi is easy to use for everyone. It should be intuitive and simple, so that users of any age can access information and entertainment.

All information on the WiFi platform should be available in different languages so that there’s no communication problems. For example, no one should be unable to access services because they can’t speak English.


Why Does Your Hospital Need Free WiFi?

Free WiFi is the most important NHS improvement and innovation that’s currently being introduced to improve Digital Inclusion in the NHS. Not just the WiFi itself, but a comprehensive platform that’s packed with entertainment, educational content and other features that improve patient experience. This platform is called SPARK® Fusion.

Patients will have access to a huge range of TV channels and Video on Demand to keep them entertained whilst in hospital. They can enjoy Sky Sports or blockbuster films, perfect for taking their minds off what can be a stressful experience. 

They’ll also have access to a huge library of NHS information, allowing them to research their conditions and make informed decisions regarding their health. Doctors can use the Trust’s devices to show important results and explain what’s happening.

No longer will busy nurses have to deal with every single patient request. Patients can request an extra pillow, glass of water, pastoral care and order meals without having to interrupt a nurse, allowing them to get on with their jobs without distractions.

This is wholly more efficient than a nurse being disturbed from their primary duties to respond to a patient call button, finding out they have a menial request like needing an extra pillow, going to the store cupboard, returning to the patient to deliver the pillow and then eventually getting back to their previous tasks.

This is just one tiny example of a massively impactful benefit on both the staff efficiency and the patient’s independence. 

Learn more about SPARK TSL products and the savings and staff benefits they can bring for your Trust.

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