NHS Rotherham's QTV service is a television network that distributes health information (signposting service information, health promotion campaigns etc) to television screens located within patient waiting areas throughout the Rotherham borough. It is designed, developed and managed by NHS Rotherham Creative Media Services (CMS). Starting from programme production through to networked distribution and broadcast, QTV is run very much as a public service TV station with its own unique channel brand.
NHS Rotherham has been delivering content via QTV since 1997. It has evolved from VHS tapes, through to DVDs (delivered every two months), and finally the current ONELAN digital signage solution. The CMS production team researched alternative programme delivery systems before establishing the ONELAN system as an excellent solution to meet their needs.
The CMS production team wanted a very exacting system to meet their requirements; they needed to work closely with their equipment suppliers 'Universal AV' and ONELAN to ensure that ONELAN Net Top Box (NTB) processor speeds and CAT5 network issues were resolved and the screen system was compromised by the strain of continuous video processing.
The CMS camera team is busy in and around the local area filming health led programmes on high definition Sony XDCAM TV cameras. These are then rapidly edited using Macintosh based Final Cut Pro HD equipment located in the post-production facility within NHS Rotherham's headquarters building.
After productions are approved the programmes are scheduled into the daily play list located on one of the ONELAN Net-Top-Box (NTB) 5005's. The production team keeps two NTB's in the studio, one as a test bed for quality control/training purposes and the other as their main publisher box. Once encoded, content is published and uploaded to a dedicated Dell Optiplex FTP server. Finally overnight downloads are made across the local NHS IT network to avoid interruptions to critical clinical IT activities and maximise usage of NHS bandwidth. This results in a seamless public facing information service that can be updated and refreshed daily if required.
The TV screens are subdivided into zones, which display continuous video programmes, local breaking news in the form of scrolling text, along with time and a tickertape for adhoc information specific to each screen location. Hourly updates of news and current affairs through the medium of BBC News24 are delivered through the freeview TV input available on receiving sites' ONELAN NTB 5005s.
CMS worked hard to find the best encryption algorithm for their video media to maintain the quality of the finished programmes. Tony Bates, Videographer and Deputy Manager of CMS, said "We had to raise our game with production values and content management, especially as our locally produced content is up for direct comparison with the production values of the BBC News24 programmes, which hit the screens at the top of each hour, and then run seamlessly into QTV programmes. We take it as a great compliment that the public think local content is produced by some London based outfit, when asked in a recent service survey which informed an academic research project."
A research project "Building Sustainable Health Capital in Rotherham" conducted in partnership with Manchester Business School, showed how very effective this form of information delivery system is in gaining real terms health capital.
Compared to other forms of receiving health information it was rated by patients as only second to receiving trusted information directly from a doctor or other clinician.