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Last Updated: Wednesday, 21 June 2006, 14:05 GMT 15:05 UK
GPs launch 'innovative' podcasts
A doctor taking a patient's blood pressure
Patients can receive help at the touch of a button
Podcasts are being used by GPs in Powys to pass on medical advice to patients, in what is thought to be the first project of its type in Wales.

Builth and Llanwrtyd practice's first podcast video demonstrates how to use an asthma inhaler properly.

Doctors will develop the service to feature campaigns about the importance of flu jabs and cervical screening.

The British Medical Association (BMA) in Wales had not heard of GPs using podcasts before but supported the idea.

Podcasts are audio visual files that can be downloaded from the internet onto a personal computer or an MP3 player.

Although still very much in its infancy and mostly used by younger people, the technology is catching on.

Podcasts are a natural progression
Dr Richard Walters

A survey published in April by research firm BMRB, found that nearly eight million Britons will go in search of a podcast in the next six months.

Dr Richard Walters said the idea for the surgery's podcast came when the doctors decided to revamp their five-year-old website.

He said surgeries normally printed leaflets to advise patients, but added that things were changing. His practice's first podcast demonstrates the proper way of using an inhaler for people with asthma.

"Podcasts are a natural progression. We also aim to provide casts on the importance of cervical screening and flu jabs," said Dr Walters.

"We find that many people have difficulties using inhalers so the podcast shows a practice nurse demonstrating how to use one."

But Dr Walters fears that some of the surgery's 7,000 patients, many of whom are hill farmers, do not have access to broadband, which is necessary to view a podcast. He said others were not computer literate.

However, the Welsh assembly government expects nearly all of Wales to have access to broadband by the end of the summer.

Apple's ipod which now shows images
People could watch the surgery's podcast via Apple's ipod

Dr Walters said the assembly government was also offering GP surgeries 250 a year to develop and fund new websites.

"I think podcasts will become familiar as more and more surgeries launch their own websites," he said.

Dr Tony Calland, chairman of the BMA in Wales, said the organisation was "very supportive" and expected the idea to "catch on".

"The BMA is very supportive of this kind of innovative use of technology," he said.

"It helps develop patient understanding and avoids people attending the surgery. Its uses are very considerable."

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