NHS Forth Valley Urges Feedback on Near Me Video Consultations
People in Forth Valley are being asked for their views on how health and care services delivered remotely could be improved and extended in the future.
The use of video consultations in Scotland has rapidly escalated since the Covid-19 pandemic started. Prior to March, there were around 300 video consultations using the Near Me system; by June, there were almost 17,000 every week, with around 150,000 in total.
In Forth Valley, the numbers have risen in this period from less than 100 to 996 per week, with more than 8,000 in total.
Now, the Scottish Government team behind Near Me has launched a major engagement exercise to find out what people think about how the system might be improved for the future.
The Government’s vision (see here: www.nearme.scot/views) is that all health and care consultations in Scotland are provided by Near Me whenever it is appropriate – and it is seeking views on that vision.
The Near Me team – part of a national programme known as Technology Enabled Care – is looking for feedback through a survey which can be completed online. There is also the option to feed-back by email or by phone.
Bette Locke, Associate Director of Allied Health Professions, NHS Forth Valley, said: “Near Me video consulting is now being extensively used throughout Forth Valley and has played a vital role in enabling local people to keep in contact with a wide range of healthcare professionals during the pandemic. This includes nurses, doctors and AHPs such as physiotherapists and speech and language therapists who have been keen to embrace the use of this new technology.”
Near Me, which was developed and tested in Scotland in 2018 and 2019, was initially used mainly in the Highlands, where distances can be an issue. However, it has come into its own during the lockdown and is being increasingly used in hospitals, GP and community services throughout the country.
People offered a Near Me video consultation at home need to have a device for making a video call, such as a smartphone, tablet or computer with webcam, and a reliable internet connection. To use the system patients are given a link to a Near Me clinic and can start their video call from this link. The system asks the patient to enter his or her name and date of birth. The patient is then held in a secure ‘virtual’ waiting room until the clinician joins the video call and the consultation then takes place as normal.
Clare Morrison, who co-leads the national Near Me programme, said: “Throughout the country health and care providers, as well as patients, have been embracing the use of Near Me in recent months and this experience has made many people realise its true potential, hence our vision. However, as we plan ahead we want to understand what the general public think about Near Me and its future use, and we hope our survey will allow us to do that.”
She added: “People across the NHS Forth Valley area have a part to play in shaping the future use by telling us how it can be further improved. I would urge people to check out the Near Me vision and give us their feedback including by taking the on-line survey.”
The survey, which can be accessed at www.nearme.scot/views, asks a range questions relating to Near Me. For example, it asks if people are comfortable with the idea of using more video consulting for health and care appointments; if there are any barriers to them using Near Me and if they have been using video technology to stay socially connected with friends and family.
It is intended to publish the survey’s findings alongside other feed-back, which will then influence the future use of Near Me.
The Near Me public engagement exercise will run from Monday 29th June to Friday 24th July.