Patients’ Internet Kiosk at Your Surgery
You must be certain that you do this correctly, particularly if you are using NHS N3 connections
UPDATE November 2006.
There are other ways to do this. We no longer use the NHS connection, avoiding many of the problems that we tackled below. Broadband is so cheap, it is not unreasonable to have a few computers in the surgery on another network and connected to ordinary high speed internet broadband connection. Almost any package will be faster the the NHS N3 offering! This second network has no connection whatsoever with the clinical network.
Another approach would be to offer a wireless service as well, but with a log-in as well as the fixed Kiosk. Both services would use the same proxy server. It may necessary to do this in order to identify users. Some users may wish to use your internet cafe or kiosk as an anonymous user and do illegal things...which could be tracked back you, the account holder. There are lots of such schemes and programmes and I did briefly play with one Linux programme. Wifi range is too limited unless one spends too much money on it with relay stations, so I aborted the project. I might come back to it.
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While your patients are in the waiting room they can see your own promotional "slide show" on a computer monitor screen. These slides can be adverts or your own information slides. The slides stay on the screen for a number of pre-set seconds before randomly moving to the next. These can be simple web pages, than even Microsoft Word can make. This is actually a useful function. Save putting up fading notices on the walls.
Those patients brave enough can use the screen to access health information on your own local web pages or on the Internet. You can chose suitable sites and search engines. To be flash you could use a touch screen rather than a mouse, but touch screens COST. SiteKiosk works with touch screens.
You cannot simply leave any computer in the waiting room connected to the NHS Net or Internet. Patients could easily access the rest of your network, quite apart from the NHS Net, especially if some bright spark could reboot the computer and have access to the desktop. Anyone can crash windows and novices would quickly get confused if they can collapse or close the browser. If anyone can restart the computer of get to a command prompt you have made a huge whole in you security.
To allow patients to have Internet
café facilities at you surgery you need to have a programme that does
Bolts down all Windows functions so that only a simplified browser is on the screen. "Ctrl-alt-delete" reboots are blocked, as so are all access to the start button, desktop and all other programmes. You can select programmes such as a risk assessor, or email that you would like patients to be able to use. Allows only selected sites to be viewed, or denies certain sites. When at rest, after a few minutes a slide show of html pages appears on the screen giving patient information. Reboots the computer overnight, logging itself back in again in and restarting the kiosk
To my delight there is a programme that does all this and more, that you can download to test for free from http://www.sitekiosk.com. It cost in 1999 $170 to license and secure your computer.
This DIY solution is much better that the then advertising T.V. in the waiting room. You have absolute control of the "adverts" and can point patients to selected web sites. Commercial companies will be offering site kiosks. This is a better option. (Ed 2006 I have not seen them since and I do not think it was a commercially viable option.
How to configure a site kiosk Internet café.
This took me less than a day, and cost £40 in cables. Ingredients: Any old computer with Pentium 133 and 32mb memory and better with say 150+ mb spare capacity on its drive. We are now using an old Celeron 933.15 inch or better screen that can give you at least 1024x768 screen size. It is nice if it can do this with a refresh rate of 72Hz or higher as that is so much more comfortable on the eyes, unless using an LCD panel. They work at lower refresh rates and sometime demand it. Extension cables for monitor, mouse and keyboard. One has to have the computer hidden so no reset button can be pressed or so it cannot be turned off. Our sitekiosk computer main box is behind the reception desk. Tweak UI (The Microsoft freebie). This allows the system to reboot straight back to the programme with login back automatically in the event of power failures etc. SiteKiosk programme and license.
Speedier computers will not be that much faster as the web page depends on the speed of the NHS Connection, unless you use a programme that "Web Crawls" and makes up a cache (that is a local copy) of the first few pages of selected sites. This would be important for the larger practices to reduce the call and workload on the single 64k ISDN connection to the Internet. A web crawler will copy the selected sites to a selected "depth" of links say once or more a day (perhaps just at night). Patients access the sites will be access the local copy, and not calling up the web site until the go to a link beyond the local store. This will be quicker, and faster computers will really show off. I do not use a web crawler at present.
I assume the old computer has a network card in it. If you have to add a network card, you will need to check how the rest of your system is configured. You will have to set TCP/IP correctly. Most surgery sites use a DCHP server that automatically gives each PC its IP address in which case that is easy. You will have to look at another windows machine’s network properties to see.
If you see that your other machines on your surgery network do not have automatic detection set you will have to put in an IP address, but it MUST be in the range given by your supplier or NHS Net. (E.g. 172.22.203.226-254) The address of your last machine must be identical to other except the last one or two digits. Chose a number that is not used by any other machine or by the router. You will have to put in the correct Netmask number, not the default. Windows assumes (correctly) that NHS addresses are class b addresses, which gives the "wrong" netmask for your network. This will be a disaster if left, as it will call up the ISDN line wastefully; the computer will be looking for 1000s of computers outside your surgery believing them to be your private network. I know G.P.s are no longer paying for the calls but that activity will slow us all down and wastes the narrow spectrum we have. The Netmask will be something like 255.255.255.224 or 255.255.255.240. You may have dummy "NAT" addresses such as 192.168.1.4. The netmask will be OK at 255.255.255.0. If you set the IP and netmask wrong the computer will not be able to find the way to the Internet.
Gateway and DNS.
Many surgery networks have a "proxy server" and that needs to be names in the browser. I make the gateway is the IP address of NHS the router. The DNS numbers are NHS Nets' DNS IP addresses, but I use another Internet suppliers DNS (which are accessible on the NHSNet). This acts as a double protection against anyone finding an NHS Net site.
SiteKiosk is very easily set up.
Here below are my first attempt pages at Archway Kiosk.