Wednesday, April 12, 2006

Virgin Active removed the pulse-rate stats from their reporting system, and reckon they'll look at public demand in order to include this again

I'm a member of the Virgin Active group of gyms. About a year or so ago, they changed the interface on their touch screens, and my gender mysteriously changed from male to female. A couple of weeks ago, the interface changed again, and now when I log on, a big picture of a shapely female appears on screen with my name attached.

Very flattering. If I were in the business of gender-switching.

Over the past year, I've asked staff members of Virgin to investigate this sex-change phenomenon, and to fix it. They've admitted to being baffled, and have promised to get their IT department onto it.

One of the other things that changed with the first interface redesign is that they decided for some unknown reason to remove the pulse-rate statistics from the data they show to their users.

For me, my pulse at rest is a major indicator of my fitness, and of my levels of stress. Here's the thing. Their machine does in fact measure my pulse rate, cos it tells me what it is when I sit at the blood-pressure machine. They simply don't report it as a statistic anymore.

So two nights ago, after seeing my shapely, curvaceous, delectable female-impersonator icon appear on the touchscreen, I thought I'd do something about it. So I came home, logged on, and found the helpline number of Virgin Life Care. I left a long, detailed message on it, and kinda expected the same treatment I've gotten for a year.

I was pleasantly surprised the next morning to get a call from someone at Virgin. They were sorting out the gender issue forthwith, and they would investigate the pulse-rate issue and let me know what the verdict was.

Maylene from Virgin just sent me this email:

Thanks for your request to include the Heart Rate data onto the Healthzone machine.

Our product development team will consider your request based on the public demand for this function to be included.

Should you have any further queries please don’t hesitate to contact us on 0800 543 322 or

Thank you for your patience and understanding.

And I decided I'd blog about this to let other people into this debate. Here's my email response to her:

This feature was on the system before your redesign. Why did you drop it in the first place? And why should public demand deetermine your approach to this issue? It's a matter of health, not of public demand.

I'll be blogging about your response. I don't feel that it is adequate.

What are your feelings about democratising the features of a health-care system? Do you believe the average consumer even knows what features to ask for? Or, for that matter, do you think we even know what features they COULD add to the system but are simply waiting for us to ask about?

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , ,

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for your comment!