Patients across Scotland could soon be treated via a webcam as the country expands its telehealth medicine initiatives.

The Scottish Centre for Telehealth (SCT) is being integrated with Scotland’s health board NHS 24, which runs the national health helpline and website, to boost telehealth across the country.

Telehealth includes using communications technology such as video conferencing to connect patients in remote areas with the National Health Service (NHS), the government said.

The SCT, with an annual budget of almost £1m, is already running projects such as the Scottish Telestroke Network, which puts stroke patients into 24/7 video contact with thrombolysis specialists.

One of the other projects, the Paediatric Telemedicine Network, links facilities lacking specialist paediatric units with Scotland’s four children’s hospitals.

The Scottish Government has increased investment in eHealth for 2010–11 from £97.2m to £134.7m, a rise of nearly 40%.