More patients in Scotland could soon have the chance to conference with their GPs via a webcam after the announcement of new plans to integrate NHS 24 with the Scottish Centre for Telehealth.

Telehealth, which sees modern technology used to link doctors with patients in remote areas, is already available in rural areas of Scotland. One such use is to link people in Orkney and rural Aberdeenshire with staff at Aberdeen Royal Infirmary.

The integration, which follows a review on the future of telehealth and its extension, will go through next year, with the Scottish Centre for Telehealth and its £1m budget becoming a part of NHS 24.

As part of the move, “telehealth champions” will ensure the benefits of using this technology are highlighted in every health board. The Scottish Centre for Telehealth is already involved in a number of projects, including an initiative that puts acute stroke patients in contact with specialists, and the Paediatric Telemedicine Network, which links those facilities that do not have specialist paediatric units with Scotland’s four children’s hospitals.