Virgin Media Business may explore the possibility of providing healthcare and therapeutic advice through set-top boxes.

The idea was mooted in a roundtable discussion led by Virgin on healthcare and technology, involving representatives from organisations such as the British Medical Association and the Stroke Association.

The use of set-top boxes was raised after attendees highlighted the positive impact the Wii is having on patients who have suffered a stroke.

The growing popularity of an iPhone app produced by Diabetes UK was also discussed in detail, with participants suggesting it would be possible to provide access to such applications through a set-top box via the ‘red-button’.

The event also explored in great detail the Cumbria and Lancashire Telestroke Network, which has provided a successful out-of-hours stroke thrombolysis service, using video and data links to experts on call.

Barriers to the development of this type of technology in healthcare were explored at the event, with calls made by various attendees for ‘greater evaluation of successful systems’ and subsequently better publicity.

Representatives from Virgin were particularly keen to improve the way in which patients and clinicians embraced technology, without enforcing a ‘big brother’ mentality on those involved.

Virgin is to produce a white paper on the discussion and what plans it hopes to implement regarding technology in healthcare in the next few weeks.

However, it is not the first time that using digital TV services have been suggested for healthcare.

Britain’s big NHS health advice providers, NHS Direct and NHS 24 have digital TV arms, and a number of cities have trialled digital TV services. EMIS offers its EMIS Access services through digital television.

And NHS Sefton win the ‘best use of social media in healthcare’ category of the EHI Awards 2011 in association with BT for giving local people access to health and NHS information through digital TV and mobile phones.