Six GP surgeries in Lanarkshire are among the first in Scotland to offer FaceTime-style video consultations to patients.
The practices are early adopters of a new Attend Anywhere service, which offers some patients the ability to dial in ‘virtually’ to speak to clinicians.
The app, which works on a similar basis to FaceTime, helps reduce pressure on health and care services and meet the ‘changing needs’ of patients.
Patients or service users enter an online waiting area from their computer, smartphone or tablet.
The service is notified when they arrive, and a health or care provider joins the virtual consultation.
Trial consultations have now been conducted at six surgeries across North and South Lanarkshire.
Some patients of these surgeries may now be offered this type of appointment, where appropriate.
Lanarkshire Telehealth team, a Lanarkshire-wide service hosted within South Lanarkshire Health & Social Care Partnership, is leading the ground-breaking work.
The award-winning team are widely regarded as a major partner in the Scottish Government’s Home & Mobile Health Monitoring (HMHM).
Once the initial use has been evaluated the programme will be extended to any other Practices in Lanarkshire who wish to participate.
A similar programme is underway to support some hospital-based outpatients.
Attend Anywhere is already being used very successfully among integrated health, social care teams and other specialist services in the community.
The extension to General Practice, despite being in the early stages, marks another significant step in the transformation of health and care delivery.
Morag Hearty, NHS Lanarkshire TEC Programme Manager & HMHM Lead, TEC and Digital Healthcare Innovation, Scottish Government, said: “This technology has the real potential to reduce the need for physical GP appointments and saving time so GPs, nurses and other general practice staff can spend more time with those living with the most complex needs.
“Crucially, by investing in improved technology across health and social care, we can improve patients’ experience and give them more choice about how to manage their conditions.
Ms Hearty added: “It’s important to note that we are in the early stages of this programme and, during this phase, Attend Anywhere will only be offered to patients when appropriate at a few participating practices.
“We will be closely monitoring the results of this early work and using it as a platform for a wider rollout. The overriding aim is to augment existing services and deliver health and care that is secure, safe and tailored to people’s lifestyles.”
Linda Findlay, Medical Director of South Lanarkshire Health and Social Care Partnership, said: “The introduction of Attend Anywhere marks another milestone in our journey to deliver health and care that is suited to the changing needs of the people of Lanarkshire.
“Technology like this can support people to manage their health and wellbeing both safely and conveniently whilst at the same time reducing pressure on the health and care system.”