Doctors and patients met virtually for the 500,000th time this week using new video consulting technology that has been supercharged by the pandemic.
Use of the video technology rocketed from around 300 appointments in the week before the pandemic to 18,000 last week.
Now there have been 502,878 online consultations between patients and health professionals in 2020 – saving some 14 million miles of travel.
The technology allows both patients and staff to minimise the risk of covid-19. It had been in use for several years, particularly in the Highlands, but on a much smaller scale.
It is most common in General Practice, Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, Community Mental Health and Physiotherapy.
Accident & Emergency is next on the list as part of a major reform to the way the public accesses urgent care.
People with non-life-threatening health problems will be asked to call 111 instead of heading straight to A&E, so they can be directed to the most appropriate place to get help.
Earlier this year Nicola Sturgeon said she wanted the NHS Near Me video consultation platform to be “the default option.”
Now there are plans to use the technology in social care, where it can help care home residents stay connected with families.
The half-a-million landmark follows top ratings from both the public and clinicians.
A total of 87% of patients surveyed thought Near Me should be used for appointments, as well as 94% of clinicians, according to a September consultation report.
Hazel Archer, from the Technology Enabled Care Programme who heads up the programme, said: “Having carried out over half a million appointments is a significant and symbolic milestone. A scale-up of such magnitude has not been seen before and its testimony to how it’s been co-designed and delivered.
“I would like to thank everyone across all the health boards and health and social care partnerships, social care and third sector, who have worked so hard to make this happen. We have all been focussed on offering choice and making services more accessible.”