Feeds

Got Sky but no computer? Book yourself a doctor's appointment

Appointments via telly

Bridging the IT gap between rising business demands and ageing tools

Doctors' offices across the country are beginning to offer appointment bookings via TV set-top boxes and mobiles, adding to a list of network services for non-surfers or those not owning a computer.

EMIS, tech-services provider to the UK medical sector, reports that over 1,100 GP surgeries are now set up for its interactive TV and WAP services.

EMIS had already offered relatively conventional web booking setups, but the company felt it was also necessary to "reach those households across the digital divide". The idea is that there are many homes without conventional computer web access, but which do have a Sky, cable, or even Freeview box with a dial-up or broadband network connection. Similarly, it's thought that lots of wrong-side-of-the-digital-tracks people have a WAP phone.

Doc appointments at signed-up surgeries can be made, changed, or cancelled for free using the red button on the TV remote, provided the telly box has a net hookup. This is normal with Sky, common with cable, but relatively rare with Freeview kit.

Using WAP on a mobile involves no charge from the portal or the doctor, but the cell network will usually charge a varying data rate.

Sean Riddell, healthcare managing director of EMIS, said: "This is a significant milestone for GPs, practice staff, and patients. The technology is now in place to offer this free service to a far bigger audience using a range of technical platforms. We will be actively encouraging practices to switch on EMIS Access and start to realise the benefits."

Perhaps confirming certain prejudices about people who have no computer but are nonetheless willing to shell out hefty subscriptions for pay-TV packages, the EMIS release also seeks to push its other interactive government portals*.

"For instance, viewers of [interactive TV] and mobile phone users can look for a job by accessing the Jobcentre Plus database..." it says.

The language is directed not at the user, but the public-sector officials who ultimately sign EMIS' cheques.

"[Interactive TV] and mobile are now key channels for government service delivery in general, particularly to those with no internet access and limited PC skills who often have a high usage of government services."

Not much doubt who they're talking about there. If you often wear a tracksuit when you aren't doing exercise, EMIS want to hook you up to the government via the only channels they reckon you pay attention to - your telly and your non-web-capable mobile.

Could be a good idea, in general. There's one obvious problem with the doc-booking service in particular, however. A quarter of GP surgeries - disproportionately in deprived areas where Sky-loving/computer-lacking people live - won't offer advance appointments, which makes TV or mobile booking rather irrelevant. ®

*See comment by Sean Riddell, EMIS's Healthcare Managing Director.

Build a business case: developing custom apps

More from The Register

next story
BBC goes offline in MASSIVE COCKUP: Stephen Fry partly muzzled
Auntie tight-lipped as major outage rolls on
iPad? More like iFAD: We reveal why Apple ran off to IBM
But never fear fanbois, you're still lapping up iPhones, Macs
Nadella: Apps must run on ALL WINDOWS – PCs, slabs and mobes
Phone egg, meet desktop chicken - your mother
ITC: Seagate and LSI can infringe Realtek patents because Realtek isn't in the US
Land of the (get off scot) free, when it's a foreign owner
HP, Microsoft prove it again: Big Business doesn't create jobs
SMEs get lip service - what they need is dinner at the Club
Samsung threatens to cut ties with supplier over child labour allegations
Vows to uphold 'zero tolerance' policy on underage workers
Dude, you're getting a Dell – with BITCOIN: IT giant slurps cryptocash
1. Buy PC with Bitcoin. 2. Mine more coins. 3. Goto step 1
There's NOTHING on TV in Europe – American video DOMINATES
Even France's mega subsidies don't stop US content onslaught
You! Pirate! Stop pirating, or we shall admonish you politely. Repeatedly, if necessary
And we shall go about telling people you smell. No, not really
prev story

Whitepapers

Seven Steps to Software Security
Seven practical steps you can begin to take today to secure your applications and prevent the damages a successful cyber-attack can cause.
Consolidation: The Foundation for IT Business Transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.
Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
Build a business case: developing custom apps
Learn how to maximize the value of custom applications by accelerating and simplifying their development.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.