||This article is written like a personal reflection or opinion essay rather than an encyclopedic description of the subject. (April 2013)|
Hospedia Ltd is a provider of bedside communication and entertainment units in UK hospitals.
Hospedia Ltd is a Private Limited Company with Share Capital. Hospedia acquired Patient Line (incorporated July 30, 1993) during July 2008 after the company recorded massive losses in 2007 and entered administration. Hospedia secured the existing bedside locations of Patientline, with a view to combining Patient Line's main competitor by also acquiring Premier Telesolutions and being responsible for over 80,000 bedside television units. The acquisition was referred to the Office of Fair Trading in 2008.
In August 2010 Hospedia Ltd was acquired from Hospedia Holdings LTD by Marlin Equity Partners, Tim Weil, Hospedia’s CEO, remarked: "Marlin’s significant capital base and shared vision for upgrading our installed base of over 65,000 terminals with our latest generation technology will enable Hospedia to provide a better service to patients and simultaneously provide hospitals with a means to significantly improve efficiency and reduce costs". This investment would be crucial in Hospedia's proposals to move into the next generation of Bedside Service Units which would also include:
- £30m of debt being written off
- Media & Press coverage mitigated
- Increase revenues
- Secure new partners to provide funding
- Offer clinical access & surveys
- On Screen Marketing
- Reduce inbound call charges
- 70% of staff to be made redundant
- Investment to upgrade the old T1 & T2 systems
Hospedia's current installed terminals are estimated to be around the 65,000 figure and is set to increase with the installation of their new T3 system which will offer hospital staff & patients access to more services at the bedside including meal ordering, infection control issues, bed utilization and patient feedback with surveys.
Whilst revenues within the company had only ever broke even and had never recovered the initial Patient Line investment cost, Hospedia envisage the system taking on a new role within the NHS and quickly engaged in changes that would see the company dramatically move to a new way of working and delivering its services to patients.
Hospedia acquired the 65,000 bed locations from the former Patientline, which secured the company a prime position to project itself as the only choice provider for all future Healthcare IT services. This position is unlikely to be rivalled as the installation costs of the original programme were never recovered, making a nationwide installation programme by any other company unrealistic. Monopolies and Mergers Commission recognised the danger of the company having a majority stake of these locations and blocked the merger with Premier Telesolutions in 2008, however Hospedia currently manage some of these sites including Northampton General Hospital.
The Tele-call system pioneered by The Wandsworth group was installed at Northampton General Hospital, Wandsworth subcontracted the running of its bedside services to Premier Telesolutions in 2003.
The company embarked on an aggressive public relations drive which would include free outbound telephone calls, better pricing structures and additional television channels. The company significantly reduced its workforce within a 12 month period from December 2010 to December 2011, most of the redundancies were from hospital locations as the roles of the Customer Service Assistants, Site Managers and Engineers were cut down to one or no staff members, usually covering a few hours a day. The company also reduced its call centre operations based in Dumfries.
Hospedia recognised the need for change and began its move from being solely a bedside entertainment provider for patients with a view to become a more integral part of the NHS by providing clinical services. This however has still to be proved as a successful way of conducting surveys as pilot schemes until now how proved slightly unbalanced as only a certain category of patients are able to use the bedside terminal. In the past The Picker Institute have expressed reservations with regard to the use of bedside terminals. However in 2012 the institute partnered with Hospedia to offer extensive real time patient surveys through their Frequent Feedback service.
In 2010 JAOtech based in Redhill, Surrey gained a contract with Hospedia, to renew bedside terminals across their entire estate in the UK. The promise of the new Zivo® system called T3 by Hospedia proposes to radically change the way patients and staff interact with the existing infrastructure and deliver clinical applications as well as patient entertainment.
The contract worth $3.25 million over twelve months, was crucial to the first phase of a Hospedia restructure. Warren Kressinger-Dunn, CEO of JAOtech, commented: "JAOtech terminals give Hospedia a state-of-the-art front end for the world's largest estate of patient bedside entertainment units. Our terminals are based on the latest screen and processor technologies to provide patients with an outstanding multimedia experience, but at the same time meet the very exacting hygiene and noise demands of the hospital ward environment. In September 2011 JAOtech & Hospedia had installed 6,500 new bedside terminals across the UK, this number was far lower than the expected number that were to have renewed contracts replacing the old T1 and T2 systems. By July 2012 the number of new units installed had increased by a further 8500, with the total in excess of 15,000.
In February 2012, Hospedia attended the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) exhibition in Las Vegas, hoping to grow business for its new T3 software, with the aim of becoming a major player in international Healthcare IT.
Hospedia were not registered as exhibitors at the HIMSS 2012 exhibition, JAOtech were present in the list of current companies with space on the exhibit floor.
Public opinion has been critical of both Patientline and Hospedia, as many view that charging the sick and vulnerable to access television in hospital is unacceptable, the cost of the bedside services have dramatically increased recently, and now can cost up to £10 for 24hours. This service currently includes standard free view channels, on demand films, on demand TV, games, internet and radio. The main complaint is that the 24 hours runs even when the television is switched off. Call charges remain at the mobile rate of 49p for incoming calls to the units, however outbound calls to landlines have now been included in the price when television is purchased. In 2010 the company featured on the BBC's consumer affairs programme Watchdog which portrayed the company in "favourable" light, neither negative or positive. The major criticism that most patients seem to have is that cards purchased from Hospedia card machines are non-refundable, the company do however state that if you pay by credit/debit card then any unused credit is refunded. In February 2010, the then head of the Patients Association Michael Summers said "This is a tax on the ill. They are a captive audience and many patients simply can’t afford these prices".
The system has been described as misleading and also difficult for the elderly and patients with critical injuries to use, as they are not able to make use of the touch screen on the newer system that is being installed, this has angered relatives that wish to use the television to bring some familiarity and stimulation to patients when in hospital.
With the removal of Hospedia personnel at hospitals and telephone operators from the Dumfries Call Centre, The company have relied heavily on NHS medical and support staff to operate the system, staff now clean the televisions due to infection control issues, this has been seen as a clever way of shifting the responsibility of a private profit making organisation to maintain their own equipment within the NHS by utilising staff funded by the taxpayer. Staff have complained that since the reduction/removal of the Hospedia card dispensers they are having to take time out of caring for patients to spend up to 30 mins off a ward to locate a machine.
In 2009 there were also complaints about a lack of “on site” support for operational problems with bedside units, and this was especially the case out of regular working hours when Hospedia relied on its 24 hour premium-rate helpline to resolve issues. It was recognised that this approach did not always meet patients needs.
The decrease in face to face and telephone customer service has led to even more frustration as when patients or visitors call the helpline from the unit, the operators are not now able to offer full customer service or replace any lost time due to faults, and these enquiries are now passed to a new department in the company's head office in Slough.
Public opinion has never been favourable on the charging of television services in hospital. When the Government introduced the PPI in 2000, they were committed to provide every patient within in the NHS bedside television and telephone services, the providers of these services, Patientline, Hospicom now HTS and The Wandsworth Group were to recover their costs from charging patients and also Hospitals using them for medical services. The demand however was a lot lower than anticipated.
Patient Power review group has expressed its concerns about the increasing costs of the bedside services and has become the most vocal of groups challenging the use of these terminals at a cost to patients. The group has launched a number of protests against the charges and Hospedia issued a statement in February 2011 to explain that they supported the reduction of telephone calls and the use of non-geographic numbers were assigned back in 2000 and were hopeful in lowering the cost of these calls.
Recent returns for the Department of Health indicate many trusts are paying for outdated systems to be updated, even where there are a number of years remaining on the original contracts.
2013 return shows a payment of £69,504.00 from The Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital NHS Trust.
Anger has been expressed recently as patients feel the taxpayer is paying twice, once for the equipment to be installed and then again to view it.
While the television services are charged for, Hospedia has continued to provide Hospital Radio for free and this enables the Hospital to reach patients via their stations on the bedside units. The Hospital stations are to be found on channel 1 on the system which also includes the facility to contact the station via the telephone on the unit. Listening through traditional means required hospitals to maintain a radio system beside each bed, but in many locations Hospedia is now the only way to access hospital radio.
During 2010, it seemed that the company had been forced to abandon most of its Hi-tech future vision due to the slow uptake of services by many NHS trusts and the decline in usage across many of its hospitals by patients, Hospedia had predicted that the majority of people staying in hospital would pay for services using mobile phones, credit cards and other "smart" technology. This has led to a rethink of the removal of all card dispensers in hospitals. But 2012 saw the business active in the software development marketplace with the acquisition of the of hospital workflow management specialists Extramed.
Many trusts have been wary of taking on more services, Hospedia's challenge is to show it will be to able offer and deliver software services constantly and reliably. This will prove difficult in an industry that is constantly evolving and can out date itself overnight, within an organisation that is having finances restricted and can downsize or grow its bed locations within a matter of days. Future plans including online prescription information and a move into online healthcare information are being looked at, as the company tries to detach itself from just being a television service provider.
Hospedia state that according to their polls, they have a 78% satisfaction rate, these statistics have been said to be a little misleading as this does not refer to the whole patient population but only to users of the system. This according to some groups does not reflect a true representation of customer satisfaction and views of the bedside units and according to Which? who surveyed 1,520 people recently said that 61% felt that it was "very poor value for money" the people surveyed were not exclusive users but a cross section of a hospital population. More recently a Picker Institute White powered by Hospedia and using NHS staff and volunteers piloted a bedside questionnaire with regarding patients satisfaction during a hospital stay, this scheme was piloted at Salford Royal Hospital and helped with feeding back a 85% satisfaction rate, with regard to a patients hospital stay and experience, not to usage of the bedside television. Staff and volunteers did not help patients in completing a Hospedia satisfaction questionnaire as this was not part of the hospital and Picker pilot.
Some concerns have been raised over the use of integrated software within the NHS and how safe is the information that will be held in private hands.
Marlin Equity Partners who are also behind enterprise resource planning business Solarsoft acquired Hospedia LTD in 2010, Hospedia was formed of a combination of Premier Telesolutions (Patientline's competitor) and its backer Milestone Capital.
While there is no question that bedside terminals will play an important role in patient care in the future, and the technology of the back office and bedside units is well established and being upgraded across the NHS, reservations remain on how best to integrate the many different technologies and how medical staff would use the units when interacting with patients.
The following hospitals have upgraded to the new T3 System: Addenbrookes Hospital, Epsom General Hospital, Royal Oldham Hospital, Whiston Hospital, Eastbourne Hospital, Chesterfield Royal Hospital, Broomfield Hospital, Carlisle Infirmary, Salford Royal Hospital, Castle Hill Hospital, Salisbury Hospital, Bournemouth General, Wythenshawe Hospital, Good Hope Hospital, St Helier Hospital, North Manchester Hospital, a small number of units have been installed at Manchester Royal Infirmary.
Mid Essex Hospital, Cambridge University Hospitals, Southampton University Hospitals and Heart of England NHS foundation trusts have started using the Clinical Access Services provided by Hospedia.
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