Hi-tech future for NHS
Patients across Scotland could soon see a consultant over webcam and have their symptoms assessed electronically.
While it may sound futuristic, the telehealth system is already up and running in some areas of the country.
People in rural Aberdeenshire and Orkney, for example, can use video links at their local GP surgery or community hospital to see doctors at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.
As well as chatting in real time, a range of medical devices, including blood pressure cuffs and glucose monitors, can be used in the consultation and a diagnosis given.
Now, a nationwide hi-tech drive will be enabled by the integration of the Scottish Centre for Telehealth (SCT) into NHS 24, the health board which runs Scotland’s national health helpline and website.
‘Telehealth’ is an umbrella term to describe the use of communications technology to put patients in contact with the NHS from a distance, ranging from video conferencing to photo assessment for urgent skin cancer referrals.
The move follows an in-depth review of the SCT’s activities which made recommendations for extending the scope of telehealth.
In its new home, the SCT’s structure will be streamlined, while ‘telehealth champions’ will ensure the benefits of new technology are embedded in every Scottish NHS board.