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ANDRINA ROBB: Virtual system is an alternative for appointments

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You have probably heard about virtual doctor’s appointments: during Covid restrictions they were used much more widely.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is shown how Near Me works.Picture: Scottish Government
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is shown how Near Me works.Picture: Scottish Government

They enable clinicians to talk with and see patients safely where a face-to-face meeting was not required.

But did you know that Near Me, as the system in NHS Highland is called, has been used for years to reduce travel for patients?

In fact, each consultant’s appointment using Near Me in the Highlands saves an average of 100 miles travelled – a result that is good for patients and the environment.

Now that people are much more used to using video meetings to catch up with friends and family, as well as at work, you might want to consider using Near Me too. It’s a safe and secure system where your details remain private, just like any other doctor’s appointment.

Near Me can be used for some hospital or GP appointments, and for some treatments, such as dietetics and mental health support.

If you think Near Me might suit you, ask if it is available.

With Near Me, you can invite along a friend or family member for support and they can dial in to the virtual appointment remotely, even if they live far away.

You can also access Near Me from rooms in some GP surgeries and other locations, saving you a journey to hospital if you don’t have a fast enough internet connection at home. And we offer training and support to get you set up on the system and using it with confidence: just email our friendly team at NHSH.NearMeEnquiries@nhs.scot, or come along to one of the drop-in sessions we publicise on our website and social media.

The feedback we have had from patients is that they appreciate not having to travel, especially for those who need regular appointments but no physical examination.

Andrina Robb.
Andrina Robb.

Some patients have said Near Me can save them several hours, and is as good as a personal conversation, as well as being more relaxing because you are in your own home environment.

You can even attend a Near Me appointment while on holiday, if you have an internet connection.

Of course, a virtual appointment isn’t suitable for all conditions, and some patients will prefer other options such as a phone call or face to face appointment.

Near Me is a way to widen the choices available and give as many patients as possible the option to access healthcare from home.

Andrina Robb is technology enabled care service project manager with NHS Highland.

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