New NHS Direct innovation to be piloted

Patients will have easier and faster access to health advice and
information from the comfort of their own homes under two pilot
projects, health minister Gisela Stuart has announced.

Telewest has been commissioned to pilot a digital “interactive”
healthcare service accessible through people’s televisions in
their homes. Around 50,000 Telewest active digital customers in the
West Midlands will benefit from the pilot.

People will be able to book appointments with their GPs, and
have conversations with NHS Direct nurses on screen. Local and
general healthcare information will also be accessible.

An interactive television channel will be produced by
Communicopia Productions Limited. The channel will provide
information about illnesses and conditions including video and
audio clips about healthy living. Information currently on the NHS
Direct website will be included.

Stuart said: “Digital TV promises faster, easier access to
health information for all, and is likely to allow us to take a
further significant step towards the NHS becoming the authoritative
provider of advice on health and a proactive partner in helping
people change to healthier lifestyles.”

Negotiations are currently taking place between the Department
of Health and a number of other companies to pilot other aspects of
health services on digital interactive television.

  • The government recently launched Care Direct, which is linked
    to NHS Direct. The scheme, which is being piloted in six areas,
    will provide a one-stop shop for people with welfare or other
    social care-related problems.



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