Second health

Added by Stephane Goldstein on 06 September 2007 13:40

OK, I admit it, I have an existence in Second Life.  Mostly, it’s for fun and entertainment, although I occasionally visit some of the more serious content.  At this point, I won’t comment on the academic and/or library presence on SL, but I have come across an interesting and potentially useful application.

This is Second Health, designed by a team at Imperial College London, with the collaboration of the National Physical Laboratory.  What has been built is a virtual representation of what the new generation of NHS local hospitals might look like.  The design is based on the principles and recommendations outlined in the report Healthcare for London: a Framework for Action commissioned by NHS London and published earlier this summer.

The interesting point is that the interactive 3-D medium offered by SL is well-suited to present and bring to life to what might otherwise seem like dry proposals from a Government publication.  The report makes radical recommendations about future healthcare delivery in London, and has a vision about how new types of building might provide generalist and specialist care for the growing population of the capital - a sort of halfway house between large GP surgeries and district general hospitals.  Second Health has created a model which enables visitors to walk around, explore, go into consulting/treatment rooms, pick up information, maybe play around (I used the virtual rowing machine in the cardiovascular centre and didn’t even get out of breath…) - and generally get an idea about how an important aspect of the NHS might actually look like in years to come.

It’s all rather nicely designed, and you could argue that hospitals are rarely that pretty.  It’s also eerily empty; in my three visits, I hardly came across anyone, and it felt more like a morgue than a hospital.  Granted, it’s early days, and it is to be hoped that more people will drop in.

Of course, if information about treatment centres of the future can be presented to prospective users and visualised in this sort of way, there’s no reason why the same approach cannot be applied to all sorts of emerging services.  Perish the thought, even libraries…

And no, I don’t intend to reveal the identity of my avatar.

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