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NHS patients to instant message doctors

Doctors could soon be using Skype and other new-fangled tools

Plans revealed earlier in the week suggest that users of the UK's National Health Service could soon be able to avoid queues in doctors' waiting rooms by chatting about their ailments through instant messaging.

The news comes after the NHS completed an upgrade to its email system by moving more than 350,000 mail accounts to the Microsoft Exchange platform.

VoIP lined up too

The executive in charge of the task then spoke of the next step: "We would very much like to introduce things like instant messaging, VoIP and Microsoft SharePoint to enable people to collaborate, rather than just sending emails."

After studying an independent case in Scotland where GPs' surgeries experimented with using a single translator on IM to deal with multiple patients who spoke no English, the NHS has, apparently, seen the value of online chat.

Funding not clear

So far, however, the plans have not been finalised as funding is undecided. Until then, it looks like we'll all still have to brave the waiting room.