Using quality improvement to rapidly implement NHS Near Me

When Scotland went into lockdown, Healthcare Improvement Scotland quickly reprioritised existing work so we could support health and care services with what they needed most during COVID-19.

One of the most significant pieces of work undertaken was to support the roll out of NHS Near Me, a national video-conferencing platform across Primary Care, Mental Health Services, Maternity and Paediatric Care.

Working in partnership with the Scottish Government Technology Enabled Care (TEC) and Digital Healthcare Innovation Directorate, the Healthcare Improvement Scotland team provided implementation support and improvement coaching to NHS board teams, developed a range of resources to support services in their own testing and established a national learning system to enable rapid transfer of learning across Scotland.

Central to the approach undertaken by the team was the application of Quality Improvement (QI) methodology.

Our support led to an increased uptake of Near Me across Scotland and contributed to increases in consultations taking place in:

  • Primary Care - up by 877%
  • Mental Health - up by 521%
  • Maternity - up by 322%
  • Paediatrics - up by 311%

Through the rapid implementation of this service further benefits have been highlighted including reduced attendance within outpatient departments, protecting the clinical and care workforce through reduced exposure to risk of infection, and increase resilience by enabling clinical support to be provided from different geographical locations.

Jo Matthews, Healthcare Improvement Scotland's Head of Improvement Support and Safety, said:

"The speed and scale of the improvement work carried out to support the roll out of Near Me was unprecedented.

This has been a great example of how quality improvement can support transformation in our health and social care system and testament to the hard work of local and national teams coming together to make change happen.

As we move towards recovery and renewal, we will use the experiences and learning to inform improvement support."

Find out how we achieved these results in our recently published NHS Near Me report, An evaluation of our rapid implementation support for NHS Near Me (PDF).

For a quick read, see the Executive summary (PDF).

More information is available in the Scottish Government's Near Me TEC team summary report that highlights the three-step model that underpinned this work.