Our family has gone through a very difficult and trying time during this Covid-19 Pandemic. Like many other families who have had loved ones in the hospital and could not visit them during the stay-at-home orders and hospitals barring any visitors, we too had to deal with a similar situation.
In late January, my brother, a retired Santa Clara Sheriff, had a serious fall that left him paralyzed. He was in serious condition and could not leave the hospital under any circumstances. For most of February, the family was able to visit him and spend time with him. Around early March, our county put out the stay-at-home orders and the hospital he was in, barred any visitors.
Due to the nature of his injury, he could not talk or speak. Even if we called him and a nurse held the phone to his ear, he could only listen. Because the nurses were so busy, they just nestled the phone near his ear and could not even tell us if and how he responded to our calls.
We even tried to do a FaceTime call with him and tried to get a nurse to help, which was very difficult. I even offered to come to the hospital and bring them one of my laptops that they could place on his bedside table and put in front of him and teach a nurse how to answer a Zoom conference call. That was rejected because I would not be allowed to step into the hospital.
Unfortunately, my brother passed away a few weeks back, and he had no visitors in the last six weeks of his life and died alone. It broke our hearts, and we will always live with that hollow feeling of not being able to be with him or even communicate with him during a very difficult time in the last weeks of his life.
The issue of our family and hundreds of thousands of people who cannot visit hospitals to visit loved ones in person during the pandemic, or if they live out of town, presents a real opportunity for someone to create what I will call a Mobile Bedside Video Conferencing System.
I envision it could be as simple as a laptop, or dedicated monitor with a camera and microphone that sits on a cart that could be rolled into a patient’s room and allow them to have a Zoom video conference with the patient at a designated time. Ideally, one of these would be in every patient room but that is likely too costly for most hospitals.
It would have to be provided by a third-party solution and service. I spoke with a hospital administrator who said that if this was done independently and as a service and they could charge patients a small fee for this service, they would love to offer it as an option. It would also have to be very simple to set up, log in, and get connected. Such a solution, like Zoom, would be ideal, although all of the other video services could be used if modified and customized for this type of service.
Regardless of how long our Covid-19 isolation lasts, or when families will be able to go see loved ones in the hospital, a Mobile Bedside Video Conferencing System makes sense. Many people who end up in the hospital have friends and relatives that live long distances from the hospital where they are residing.
This would allow a patient to connect with families or friends who can’t get to the hospital to see them in ways not possible today. Yes, smartphones and laptops could provide a video conference link if a family member can get to the hospital and provide that feature themselves but there would be varying degrees of quality. Ideally, a dedicated solution with great cameras, great video, tied to great broadband would provide a valuable in-patient experience where residents can have virtual visitors and more quality interactions.
A solution like this could also be used for the growing telehealth trend and provide a dedicated solution in hospitals for doctors to do virtual consultations.
A Mobile Bedside Video Conferencing System could be a blessing for anyone whose loved ones are in a hospital or nursing facility. It is impossible to go see them due to several issues or restrictions right now, but even beyond this pandemic for friends or family out of state or country, it is a nice way to allow virtual visitors to those in a hospital or nursing care.
Given the Pandemic, we are in and not being sure how long it will last or if it will have a second wave, I believe that this is a business opportunity for someone to grab and make life much more tolerable when it comes to people being able to connect with loved one’s in a hospital easily and often.