NHS Direct has extended its health advice service to the Freeview DTT platform. The service went live on December 20 and is using technology provided by the interactive playout and MHEG middleware specialists Strategy & Technology. Britain’s National Health Service already runs on the Sky Digital satellite platform and the Internet. The DTT version is being hosted on the Sky Text platform within Sky’s Freeview capacity. It is currently scheduled to run until March 31, 2007.
S&T was commissioned by Sky to extend its existing MHEG-5 delivered digital text service to include the 150-page information service. The company created new templates that will work with an XML feed before being processed by S&T’s content management, production and broadcast systems. A new virtual channel – 108 on the Freeview EPG – has been created to allow direct access to NHS Direct and Sky Text.
The online version of NHS Direct has been designed in part to take pressure off the NHS by answering questions on minor ailments. However, while the Freeview service will be able to answer common health questions, the lack of a return path means that the medicine can only be dispensed one way. (JC)