Near Me video consultation in Scotland: 20 years in the making!

Written by
Hazel Archer and Marc Beswick, Digital Health and Care

With the publication in January 2024 of the Near Me Final Report, Hazel Archer (Head of Programme) and Marc Beswick (Digital Education and Adoption Lead) look back on the evolution of video conferencing technology in the last 20 years with a focus on Near Me (2016 to current). In this, the first of two blogs, they celebrate how Near Me has transformed video consultations in Scotland, the profound impact of COVID-19, and pick out some highlights.


Video conferencing technology has evolved from dedicated video conferencing units using telephone lines in the 1990s to modern web browser-based systems. This was mostly for meetings with little or no use for patient consultations. This changed with the advent of platforms like Attend Anywhere now delivered by Induction Healthcare Group. This enabled health professionals to hold video consultations with a person in their own home (or close to home) safely and securely.

The Scottish Government initially purchased a license for a platform from Attend Anywhere in 2016. Early adopters included NHS Grampian, NHS Western Isles and the 3rd Sector.

In 2018, funding was awarded to NHS Highland by the Scottish Government to support the development of out-patient services in Caithness, building on earlier work in Community Pharmacy. In partnership with patients, the public, and professionals, the service was later named Near Me.

Following a competitive process in 2023, the Attend Anywhere Platform has been re-procured until March 2026.

The COVID-19 pandemic and current usage

In preparation for anticipated stringent restrictions due to COVID-19, a 12-week scale-up plan was launched, through the then Technology Enabled Care Programme on 9 March 2020. The need for social distancing had wide-ranging implications for citizens and services. It necessitated the need for many to work from home and all non-essential care to be paused or, where possible carried out remotely.

To put this in context, in February 2020, there were around 1,000 Near Me consultations carried out per month and by June 2020 it had increased to c72k consultations per month. One year on (March 2021) it peaked at 92k consultations per month. The platform was also used to support virtual visits.

All of Scotland’s COVID-19 restrictions ended in August 2021 and with a return to in-person appointments the use of Near Me has stabilised to around 33k consultations held each month. Activity is spread over 80 specialties in health including primary care, community, and acute with use across cradle-to-grave services. Notably, half of the activity is attributed to Mental Health for example mental health outpatients, Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and Eating Disorders, Local Authorities, Citizen Advice Scotland, the housing sector, and a wider range of third-sector organisations are all using Near Me.

A focus on people and improvement, not technology

Through the Attend Anywhere Platform, the opportunity to provide feedback after each call is embedded including collecting demographic information and satisfaction surveys. Analysis can be broken down into distinct categories such as health board and service which has helped us to monitor uptake

To date, we have had c160k responses which consistently show very high levels of satisfaction with 97% of respondents stating they would use Near Me again and 92% of respondents stating they were either happy or very happy with the video call. When asked to select the benefits of video calling, saving time and avoiding travel were the most selected. For further information see the summary report Near Me: Review of Consultation Data Oct 22 – Sept 23


From the early pilots, the 12-week scale-up programme, the experience during Covid-19, and all the collaboration we continue to develop opportunities to offer video consultations as a choice. There remains considerable variation in use, and while some of this might be warranted imposing in-person or phone appointment types might not always be the best solution. Nevertheless, with the widespread use of Near Me, backed up by extensive support resources, it is recognized that Near Me is largely embedded across the Health Sector.

In a follow-up blog, some of the developments in social care and the associated ongoing support for the sector will be described. There will also be a focus on Group Consultations, equality, engagement and evaluation plus the new E-Learning Modules.

Further information

Visit to find out more and get started or contact

Hazel Archer Hazel Archer

Smiling man in blue suit and tie Marc Beswick

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