Virtual GP appointments trialled in Lanarkshire
Patients in Lanarkshire are among the first in Scotland to trial “virtual GP consultations”, which involves an appointment conducted via video call, similar to Facetime.
The “Attend Anywhere” technology gives patients the option to attend an online appointment from their computer, smartphone or tablet, instead of travelling to a physical doctor’s appointment.
Patients enter into an “online waiting area”, the health service is notified when they arrive and then a health care provider joins a virtual consultation with the patient via a “secure video call”, NHS Lanarkshire said in a statement.
Trial consultations have been conducted in North and South Lanarkshire, and once this has been evaluated then the programme “will be extended to any other practices in Lanarkshire who wish to participate”, the board said.
“Trial consultations have now been conducted at some surgeries across North and South Lanarkshire. Some patients of these surgeries may now be offered this type of appointment, where appropriate.”
A similar programme will also be rolled out to support hospital-based outpatients.
NHS Lanarkshire TEC programme manager Morag Hearty said the technology had “the real potential to reduce the need for physical GP appointments” which would allow GPs and nurses to 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,” she said.
However, Hearty noted: “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,” she said.
South Lanarkshire Health and Social Care Partnership medical director Linda Findlay said the technology could “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.”
“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,” she said.