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Last Updated:  Monday, 17 March, 2003, 08:49 GMT
Students get healthcare via TV
Family watching iSeeTV
Families could get health advice via the TV
Students at a university in the US will soon be able to contact their doctors via their TVs.

A system called iSeeTV has been developed by a UK company Media Logic to allow students at Ball State University in Indiana to have a live consultation with their campus healthcare centre from the comfort of their dorm.

Students will use the phone to talk to their doctor or nurse, but will be able to see the person on the screen, allowing them to point out possible symptoms with the aid of pictures.

There are several reasons why the service will work particularly well at Ball State university, said Glyn Radcliffe-Brine, Commercial Director of MediaLogic.

"At the moment the campus is under two feet of snow and it is no fun going out," he told BBC News Online.

UK trial

Many students at the university come from conservative backgrounds in the mid-west of America and are often embarrassed to discuss sensitive issues such as alcohol or sex-related problems face to face.

Students will be able to talk with an on-screen doctor on the phone and can be shown pictures of possible conditions to aid diagnosis.

MediaLogic trialled iSeeTV in the UK for a year, connecting cable subscribers in Birmingham to the government's flagship NHS Direct service.

Telewest, the cable firm involved in the trial, decided not to continue with it, despite its popularity with users.

Empty waiting rooms

The UK Government has ambitious plans to use broadband to revolutionise the health service.

But Mr Radcliffe-Brine is not sure that these plans will be rolling out any time soon.

"It will be quite a few years before people do their healthcare via a PC as the infrastructure isn't there," he said.

But the benefits of offering people a way to connect with doctors from within their own homes are obvious, he said.

"Healthcare professionals will have to do less home visits and will only have to go out when a human being is needed. It will also mean less full waiting rooms," he said.

"People just have to pick up a phone and switch on their TV," he added.

MediaLogic is also planning to offer a distance learning programme via iSeeTV to post-graduate nurses in the US, which will be available via TV and handheld computers.

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