Telemedicine is often held up as a brilliant example of how broadband can help society and the increasing speed and reliability of access offering potential for savings and improvements in health care. Today during the Conservative Party Conference we are expecting details on a £50m trial to extend GP surgeries opening hours and also fund the use of Skype and telephone consultations.
The extended hours mentioned so far are still well shy of a 24/7 model, as we have seen 8am to 8pm mentioned, the interest from the broadband perspective is the chance that people might be able to avoid the trudge down to the surgery, the difficulty finding somewhere to park or the long trip on a bus for those without a car and the waiting.
The funding of £50m is split between 50 surgeries that cover some half a million patients, which sounds a lot of money when you consider that one of the best webcams for sometime has been the Logitech C920 HD at £60 to £90. We suspect that the extended hours may mean a good chunk will be spent on salaries and training courses to help the GP understand how to interact with a patient using video conferencing.
The number of laptops, tablets and mobile phones which will work with Skype also mean that a massive segment of the population have the ability to take part.