Arranging and getting to a health appointment can be time consuming and stressful – but your smartphone or tablet could help.
As pressure continues on NHS services technology is being increasingly used to help ease the burden.
So how can digital devices help? How many people in Tayside are already taking advantage of the technology?
And what are future plans if you want to get an appointment online?
Here’s what you need to know.
One of the ways technology is being used increasingly by health boards, including NHS Tayside, is the Near Me service.
In fact, many people used it during the pandemic when lockdowns prevented us going into health care settings.
What is Near Me?
The Near Me service allows you to use your own digital device to join a video call for a booked health appointment.
You can speak to your clinician remotely and not have to attend in-person.
And you can use your own device at a location that’s convenient to you, usually from your own home.
How many in Tayside have already used it?
Up to 40,000 consultations are taking place every month now using Near Me across the country.
And in Tayside, since March 2020, more than 113,500 clinical appointments have taken place using Near Me online.
This includes outpatient department and GP appointments and other services across NHS Tayside.
Services such as mental health and physiotherapy are also using Near Me to see patients who do not need to attend a healthcare site.
So how do you access it and how does it work?
Getting online for your appointment
The hospital, GP practice or other service will give you a website address for its video clinic.
Most services will give you an appointment date and time when you should start your video call.
You do not need to download an app or create an account.
And your details remain private, just like any other appointment.
The Scottish Government say a feedback survey of nearly 25,000 people who used Near Me reported an average saving of 36 miles per visit.
The survey also revealed 92% said the system was easy to use and 97% would use it again.
Does that mean I won’t get an in-person appointment?
Near Me video consulting is not suitable for all appointments.
If you need a physical examination or a procedure carried out you will still need to be seen in person.
Your health, care or other provider can advise what is appropriate for you.
Health Secretary Humza Yousaf says: “Face to face appointments will always be there for people who need them.
“But Near Me has many benefits to patients, including saving time and money.
“It allows multiple family members to join consultations and saves patients having to take time off work or organise childcare.
“The platform has also reduced the need for travel, saving an estimated 57 million miles of travel since January 2020.
“That is so important now when we are looking at fuel costs and impact on the environment.”
What if I don’t have my own device?
The government recently announced funding to set up 55 community hubs across Scotland with areas for private video consultation.
And if you live locally and don’t have your own mobile or computer, from January 2023, you can arrange to use the service at community digital health hubs located at:
There are plans to add more locations in coming months too.
Who can help me?
Stuart Fordyce, Dundee digital health engagement worker, Dundee Volunteer & Voluntary Action, says the #DigiDundee programme is also helping people get online.
They want to avoid digital exclusion and help those who don’t yet have the skills to use technology like Near Me.
He says: “We know there are people in the community who don’t have the confidence to use new technologies and embrace the digital world that surrounds them.
“So we’re looking to get in touch with groups across the city and to develop a volunteer network.
“We’re hoping this can be used to support people to provide them with the skills to use the new technologies available, such as Near Me.”