NHS Connecting for Health and BT have announced that BT is to offer a national videoconferencing service over N3, the broadband network that it built and manages for the NHS.
The N3 Video Conferencing Managed Service will be run by the company’s videoconferencing unit, BT Conferencing. It will launch in June, but trusts can sign up and place orders for terminal equipment now.
CfH argues that the service “is expected to be cheaper and simpler than existing, localised NHS videoconferencing services” with trusts able to set up internal and external videoconferencing calls using an online booking system.
Len Chard, CfH’s N3 programme manager, said: “Videoconferencing has huge potential to save the NHS money and to make it more efficient in both clinical and business terms.
“This is expected to increase usage and encourage greater innovation. The greater take up can only open up more exciting possibilities.”
CfH has also referenced the NHS’ requirements to cut its carbon footprint to meet government targets, arguing that the new service should reduce the need for staff to travel to meetings and so cut CO2 emissions.
John Abbott, BT’s chief executive of N3, said: “In some trusts, we are aware that the complexity of running a videoconferencing service has been a barrier to greater usage and the equipment has ended up hardly being used.
“The N3 conferenceing service solves these issues by making it easy to set up calls within a trust as well as to other trusts. [The] online booking system will allow users to book meetings remotely and simply walk into the room when the meeting is starting.”
BT completed the N3 service in January 2007 and subsequently upgraded it to carry both voice and data. More than 100 NHS organisations use N3 voice services and more than 3m calls have been made over the N3 network.