BodyTechnic: Open wide and say ahhhh to kiosks

Although there is no getting away from the dreaded visit to the doctor, the Web may soon be playing a complimentary role in getting medical information to patients via interactive kiosks.

A multimedia production company is planning to publish medical information on the Internet in one of the first ventures of its kind in the UK. Julia Schofield Consultants, creators of interactive CDs, hopes to trial information about rheumatism on its website in the first instance.

The company currently has several CDs covering a variety of diseases, including glaucoma and skin conditions, available on touch-screen multimedia terminals in selected hospitals. The CDs have been written by experts and are intended to support consultants rather than replace a visit to the doctor.

Dr Hughes, consultant rheumatologist at St Thomas' worked on several of the CDs and believes the multimedia kiosks are an excellent way of getting information to patients. "Our cupboards are full of booklets but by and large they stay there. The multimedia format is much better," he said.

Patient feedback on the kiosks has been very positive with 90 percent claiming to enjoy using the system. Significantly, when people go to the doctor they may be reluctant to ask certain questions for fear of seeming ignorant; the system allows them to search for answers for themselves. The company is to sell the kiosks early next year when they should start appearing in chemists.

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