Hospital Radio Bedford: Delivery Technology Consultation

We at Hospital Radio Bedford have suffered in the last two years due to the removal of the Hospicom patient entertainment system. This was replaced with a free WiFi service for patients, which included the facility for us to stream our signal across, however we have found that due to a number of factors including age profile of patients, lack of awareness, and unwillingness of patients to bring WiFi enabled devices into hospital, our listenership is probably very limited.

This is also an issue for the Hospital Trust as they are not meeting their DOH requirements for patient entertainment, and staff say patients are less settled because they have nothing to listen too.

We have therefore started a project in partnership with The Bedford Hospitals Charity to provide bedside listening devices which will pick up our stream but also have access to others i.e BBC etc.

Whilst there are still many technical and practical issues still to be resolved, we are in communication with a well known UK based company who specialise in the design, build and sale of radio receivers. They seem keen to work with us to provide a solution, but obviously there is a cost involved.

Talking to other hospital broadcasting organisations via Facebook groups it would seem we are not the only station in the same position now or in the foreseeable future, I’m therefore keen to better understand how many other stations might at some point need solution of this type as the more units we can sell the lower the cost is likely to be.

Obviously I am not asking for any commitment at this stage as we are far too early in the discussions, but it would be useful to know how many stations see a need and how many units might be required.

Listed below are our initial thoughts on requirement (which may well change) for information.

To provide a bedside device capable of connecting to the WiFi Spark network that will allow patients to listen to audio output via headphones.

The device should:

  • In essence be a simple single board device in a plain case.
  • Default to the HRB stream
  • Have the availability of other radio stations from a preselected list
  • Have a volume control
  • Have a 3.5mm headphone socket for use with disposable headphones (no speaker is required)
  • Have simple to operate controls
  • Have an auto off function (to minimise bandwidth usage)
  • Be able to decode MP3, AAC, HLS (for BBC) type streams
  • Be compliant with infection control regulations or Trust procedures
  • Be fixed to ensure non removal from the bedside
  • Be powered by an approved mains power supply
  • Operate on a ‘free’ operating system e.g. Linux rather than licensed OS such as Windows
  • Be ideally maintainable locally, i.e. have the ability to reload configuration files from a central server.

Please email if there is any interest.