Views are being sought on how health and care services might be delivered remotely in the future.
It comes after the use of video consultations rapidly escalated across the country since the Covid-19 pandemic started.
Prior to March, there were around 300 video consultations using the so-called “Near Me” system throughout Scotland. By June, there were almost 17,000 every week, with around 150,000 in total.
In Shetland, the numbers have risen during the same period from two to 66 per week. In total 850 video consultations have taken place in the isles.
Now, the Scottish government has launched a major engagement exercise to find out what people think about the system, and how it might be improved for the future.
The government’s wants all health and care consultations in Scotland are provided by Near Me whenever it is appropriate – and it is seeking views on that vision.
The Near Me team – part of a national programme known as Technology Enabled Care – is looking for feedback through a survey which can be completed online. There is also the option to feed-back by email or by phone.
NHS Shetland’s director of nursing and acute services Kathleen Carolan 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 Shetland.
“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 Shetland 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 was developed and tested in Scotland in recent years. It was initially used mainly in the Highlands, where distances can be an issue, but has become more widely used during lockdown.
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.
To use the system patients are given a link to a Near Me clinic and can start their video call from this link. The system asks the patient to enter his or her name and date of birth. The patient is then held in a secure ‘virtual’ waiting room until the clinician joins the video call and the consultation then takes place as normal.
The survey can be accessed at www.nearme.scot/views.
The exercise will run from Monday 29th June to Friday 24th July.