Technology’s Role in Reducing Anxiety and Stress in the Healthcare Environment

Away from home, an alien environment, strange faces, a new routine. Add the worry of an ensuing procedure or diagnosis, and you've got a heady cocktail of situations conducive to stress and anxiety.

Recognising the negative impact of anxiety and stress on patient well-being and recovery, healthcare providers are increasingly turning to technology to help reduce patient stress levels.

Whilst technology should be seen as a complement to, rather than a replacement for, human connection and empathetic healthcare practices, technology is  becoming an increasingly powerful tool in the pursuit for better patient outcomes.

The multi-faced patient entertainment system (PES) plays a critical role in the managing of stress levels and anxiety in the healthcare environment.

Let’s have a look why:


Ever found yourself idly surfing YouTube? If you have, you’ll know how easy it is to pass time amidst the 9.5 billion minutes of content. What starts as a flick through clips of cat mishaps, soon evolves into Top 10 celebrity meltdowns, with all manner of quirky subjects visited along the way.

Any activity that passes time and offers an escape, is likely to help alleviate anxiety. And of course, a patient entertainment system has much more to offer than a conveyor belt of YouTube clips. Catch-up TV services such as BBC iPlayer sit alongside streaming services (Netflix, Amazon Prime etc) offering an (as good as) infinite supply of on-demand content. Music services (Spotify, TuneIn Radio etc), games and puzzles add an extra dimension to the content offering, and of course, let’s not forget good old linear TV, providing a traditional TV service – especially suitable for the technophobes amongst us.

This myriad of options serves not only as a much needed escape, but adds a home-from-home element to the patient’s hospital stay. And hey, with all this content on offer, surely we’ve ticked all the necessary boxes re the provision of a less stressful environment?

Not at all! A well designed patient entertainment system offers multiple additional stress and anxiety alleviation tools. Keep reading…

Education & Information

Much of the stress and anxiety suffered by hospital patients can be attributed to fear of the unknown. Feelings of disorientation and disempowerment are common amongst patients that will often be creatures of habit, and well outside their comfort zone.

A patient entertainment system offers a handy and accessible receptacle for  the storage of information. Pages can be simple in nature – think hospital menus, shop opening & closing times, a list of FAQs etc. However, more sophisticated content such as interactive maps or rehabilitation / medical procedure videos, can offer a clearer understanding of a patient’s healthcare journey.

The digital dissemination of this type of information reduces the burden on healthcare professionals, and is a more inclusive method of distribution (catering for the introverted, or non-English speakers, for example).

And of course, content that actively encourages patients to participate in their own care will ultimately increase the chance of a better patient outcome. 

Communication and Connectivity

Features such as video calls and messaging can help combat the feelings of isolation and unfamiliarity, often connected with a hospital stay. What better tonic than a video session with the grandchildren?

A patient entertainment system can also assume a similar role to that of the nurse button, offering a patient to staff messaging vehicle, via the TV’s interface.

This ticks a few operational agility / efficiency boxes, but that’s a story for another day…

Relax, Relax, Relax...

Internet based technology offers options and an abundance of flexibility, rewarding the creative mind.

Why not turn your TV into a lovely, soothing piece of art? Unsure whether you want a Vincent van Gogh vibe, or is Banksy better suited? Better still, why not change the artwork every day? or even every hour! Internet based technology makes this possible – and quick and easy to implement. 

Art is great, but perhaps even better is the creation of soothing environments. A beach scene, a rainforest in full swing, some chicks hatching out of a shell. How about a fireplace? or a snowy winter’s day?

Or if you’re looking to provide your patients with a bit of unadulterated escapism, it’s worth looking at ‘slow TV.’ The stunning seven-hour Bergen to Oslo train (see above video) is one of a veritable smorgasbord of options. 

Whatever floats your boat, the patient entertainment system is a powerful tool in the creation of a relaxing environment.

Empower, empower, empower

At a fundamental level, all of the above features serve to empower the patient, putting them more in control of not just their daily schedule, but their health outcome.

A study published in the Journal of Patient Experience found that patients who feel more empowered, take a much more active level in their health outcome, and display higher levels of satisfaction with their healthcare provider.

This is ties in nicely with the NHS long term plan which details a future in which digital services are used to empower the patient, better meeting their needs and offering a much more personalised experience.

Whilst the scope of this is vast, the trusty old patient entertainment system will be well in the midst, a protagonist in the healthcare environment’s digital future.

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