A health centre in London is offering a vision of the future for doctor's surgeries.
A console links patients and doctors up to the teleclinic
Doctors at Chorleywood Health Centre use broadband connections, videoconferencing and next-generation diagnostic equipment to cut waiting times for patients and reduce outpatient referrals by three-quarters.
The UK Government is committed to providing every GP in the country with a fast internet connection by 2006, as a way of streamlining the service offered to patients.
At Chorleywood patients and doctors dial in to teleclinics, offering video consultations with specialists without the need of physically going along as out-patients.
Uniting the NHS
Doctors can also perform diagnostic tests on patients, transmitting information directly to hospital-based consultants for immediate diagnosis.
Chorleywood is demonstrating how information comunication technology can help the Health Service truly become greater than the sum of its parts
Dr Malcolm Clarke, Brunel University
Referrals to regional hospitals have been reduced by up to 75%.
Medical staff at the health centre use handheld computers and wireless networking to access and update patient records on the move.
"The Chorleywood project exemplifies how information comunication technology (ICT) can be used to deliver the best medical expertise the NHS can offer," said Dr Malcolm Clarke at the Department of Information Systems and Computing at Brunel University.
It has helped the health centre with much of its hi-tech implementation.
"As well as delivering unprecedented cost and time savings, Chorleywood is demonstrating how ICT can help the Health Service truly become greater than the sum of its parts, encouraging teamwork at all levels of the organisation," he added.