Choosing patient room televisions

Bob Gruenwald By Bob Gruenwald, Director of Technical Operations
More Resources

July 9, 2019

. . .

Although all televisions are fundamentally the same, there are several different applications for a television throughout the hospital.

Common applications for televisions include traditional patient room televisions, swing arm televisions, signage televisions, and public viewing televisions. Each of these have their own group of considerations when it comes to choosing a suitable brand and model but let’s focus on the needs of traditional patient room televisions.

Healthcare Grade Televisions

Hospital Patient TV Systems

It is well known to most in the industry that the commercial and healthcare environment means using a typical TV off the shelf from a big box store is not a great option. Healthcare grade TVs incorporate a means to integrate to a nurse call system. This allows a pillow speaker to be used for basic television control. Healthcare grade TVs also are often made to integrate to patient engagement systems such as the SONIFI Health iTV system without need for an external box. Software and hardware components are built into the television during the manufacturing process. This integration could consist of a “smart” TV app that runs on the operating system used by the television or it could be proprietary hardware/firmware circuitry that is built into a “non-smart” television.

Smart TV or Set Top Box?

With more and more smart television models entering the market, the decision between using a smart television versus a non-smart television tends to be a factor when deciding whether to replace televisions to add functionality such as a patient engagement system. For some patient engagement providers, the smart television is the least expensive and least complex method to add functionality to the system as it eliminates need for boxes and adapters for routing wired control from the pillow speaker.


For SONIFI Health, the flexibility of built in technology with or with smart capability shifts the attention from what hardware is needed at the television to the age of the television and the type(s) of cable that are present to deliver television and patient engagement services to the television. Cabling types, whether it is coaxial cable, ethernet (cat5e/6), or both can determine if a non-smart television is adequate and can remain in service or if an upgrade to a smart television is a better option.

Casting, or streaming content from an application on a personal mobile device or controlling the television from a mobile device should be considered as part of the TV type decision. It is good to keep in perspective if your existing or new televisions could support these features from the onset or at some point during their years of service. It may seem that streaming would require a smart TV, this is not necessarily a requirement.

Shelf Life

It’s important to remember that after 5-7 years of service, it is time to consider replacement or to begin preparing to replace televisions here and there as they fail at a steady and sometimes uncomfortable pace until they’ve all been replaced. Budgeting and planning to replace the televisions at regular intervals can make a big difference when it is weighed against the inconvenience of failure of the television in a patient room for both the patient and the staff.

Managing Updates

Other factors to consider, particularly in the case of adding functionality are how the televisions will be managed, whether it is firmware or software updates, managing the channels the television will access and display, the format and strategy for securing and/or encrypting content. Pairing existing and/or new televisions with a product that cares for all of these needs over the life of the television without the need to visit each television after it is initially installed is a massive savings of time and resources. It is important to think ahead.


Have questions about what TVs might be right for your facility?
We’d love to help. Contact us.

Stay Connected

Get our newsletter and receive exclusive product details, research and industry news.