Digital improvements, such as a huge increase in the use of Near Me video appointments in health and care accelerated during the pandemic.
Now the Scottish Government has extended the contract opening the way to support all third sector organisations to benefit by using the Near Me platform. To date there has been significant use by Alzheimer Scotland, Crossreach, Cruse Bereavement Care and Penumbra. But the new arrangements mean any organisation can apply including those out with health and care.
Hazel Archer who heads up the Near Me Programme for Technology Enabled Care said:
“We have been working to ensure that there is sufficient capacity to meet the growing demand for Near Me video appointments since the pandemic. It is an appropriate, effective, and secure means of conducting remote consultations. Alongside the NHS and care sector we have started to work with the public sector and now feel it could also be an invaluable tool for many third sector organisations.”
As well as the lower risk of infection associated with use of video, other benefits include improved access to services, convenience, reduced need to travel and take time off work and less environmental impact. Another significant benefit that people have reported is that family members or other professionals can join a call.
Hazel added: Anyone can apply for a licence, and we will also provide practical help and advice to enable start up. Currently we are carrying out 22,000 appointment per week for health and care. The benefits described translate across many if not all services. We want to build on this and extend the use of Near Me and other digital solutions across the third sector.
For more information and to apply for a licence contact firstname.lastname@example.org or you can phone Maimie Thompson on 07522 516043
Last year more than 5,000 people responded to a public engagement exercise which highlighted the many benefits and some barrier to using video for appointments. As well as a survey it involved writing to more than 300 organisations. Responses came from those representing a wide range of people including carers, inequalities groups, homeless, mental health, pensioners, and end-of-life care. Feedback and support from voluntary and charitable organisations were invaluable in helping to inform decisions about how best to carry out video appointments including its potential use beyond health.
Developed and tested in 2018 and 2019, the Near Me video consulting service was initially used mainly in rural and island communities in the north of Scotland, where distances can be an issue.
Near Me is web-based and is powered by a video consulting platform called Attend Anywhere which was procured for national use across Scotland by the Scottish Government. Attend Anywhere is an Australian company that has been providing video consulting services in Australia for many years.
General information about Near Me is available at www.nearme.scot and a short video is also available showing how easy it is to use.