Friday, 28 October 2011

NHS on your TV

The NHS in Scotland recently launched a new TV channel and interactive TV application that provides health information and advice to the public. NHS 24 is also using this to pilot a TV-based booking scheme for doctor’s appointments, indications are that this scheme is already reducing the number of missed appointments amongst people using it.

These services are all available over the Web already, so why make them available as interactive TV apps? Many people, especially the elderly or those in rural or deprived areas, have far better access to these services via their TV than they do via the Internet. While a website makes it far easier to offer a wider ranger of information and services, a digital TV service such as this gives much wider access to the basics and this is often enough to meet people’s needs.

Many commentators have already pointed out that the government’s plans to provide online access to more services risks widening the “digital divide” not only in Scotland but elsewhere. Offering some of these services via televisions as well via the Web can help reduce the impact of this, but only if those services are easy to use. Application developers need to carefully consider the audience most in need of these services – the elderly, those in rural areas and those in deprived areas – if they are to succeed.

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