People in the north-east are getting a say on how health and care services might be delivered remotely.
The use of the video consultations in Scotland has rapidly escalated since the Covid-19 pandemic started.
Prior to March, there were around 83 north-east video consultations using the Near Me system; by June, there were almost 3,000 every week, with 27,807 in total.
Now the Scottish Government has launched a major public survey to find out what people think about how the system might be improved for the future.
Ministers want all health and care consultations in Scotland are provided by Near Me whenever it is appropriate and they are seeking views on that vision.
Paul Allen, NHS Grampian’s director of eHealth and facilities, said: “Near Me video consulting is proving to be vital for those who deliver and receive health and social care during the pandemic and is being extensively used throughout Grampian as well as supporting our island boards.
“It has enabled services to continue to be provided without potential exposure to Covid-19 and has significantly reduced the number of people coming into health and social care premises. It has therefore made an important contribution to reducing the risk of the infection spreading.
“It is important that we plan now for the future post-Covid 19 – and residents in Grampian have a part to play in that. I would urge people to check out the Near Me vision and give their feedback on it.”
Near Me, which was developed and tested in Scotland in 2018 and 2019, was initially used mainly in the north of Scotland, 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.
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.”
The survey, which can be accessed at www.nearme.scot/views, asks a range of questions relating to Near Me and it is open until July 24.
The findings as well as other feedback will then influence the future use of Near Me.