Leader comment: Virtual check-ups a boon for NHS and patients

Technology has helped revolutionise treatment and care across Scotland's NHS, with operations that are now routine considered beyond the wildest dreams of medicine and science only a generation ago. The march of innovation has been a force for good, and it is only right that it should be exploited to the full in innovative ways.

Patients could test their own blood pressure rather than have to visit a doctor.
Patients could test their own blood pressure rather than have to visit a doctor.

The Scottish School of Primary Care is of the same opinion, reasoning that GPs across the country should offer virtual check ups for at least one condition, such as diabetes and high blood pressure.

Given eight out of ten households are connected to the internet and the increasing prevalence of affordable smartphones, there is no technological barrier to this sensible suggestion.

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Granted, many people take comfort in seeing their doctor face to face, and that right should not be taken away from them. Yet who among us does not struggle to juggle our work and family commitments with everyday appointments? Sometimes there are not enough hours in the day. This common sense solution is a way forward, one which could have a transformational impact on diagnosing and planning for long-term health conditions.

An existing project in the Lothians has helped ease the strain on overworked doctors, with patients taking their own blood pressure at home before texting the results to their surgery. Such conditions often go undetected, but if just a handful more people are diagnosed as a result of online checkups, it will be worthwhile.

The NHS does not have its challenges to seek. A simple, affordable step such as this is welcome and should be rolled out immediately.