Govt. issues guidelines for telemedicine

To realise full potential of advancements in technology for healthcare delivery

At a time when providing in-person healthcare is challenging, given the large distances and limited resources, telemedicine increases timely access to appropriate interventions, including access to services that may not be otherwise available. But there has been concern on the practice of telemedicine due to lack of clear guidelines. This has created ambiguity for registered medical professionals, raising doubts about the practice of telemedicine.

Allaying these concerns, telemedicine practice guidelines prepared by Medical Council of India in partnership with NITI Aayog were released by the government.

The guidelines will give practical advice to doctors so that all services and models of care used by doctors and health workers are encouraged to consider the use of telemedicine as part of normal practice.

These will also help realise the full potential of advancements in technology for healthcare delivery and provided norms and protocols relating to physician-patient relationship, issues of liability and negligence, evaluation, management and treatment, informed consent, referrals for emergency services, medical records, privacy and security of patient records etc.

The guidelines emphasise that the professional judgment of a Registered Medical Practitioner (RMP) should be the guiding principle for all telemedicine consultations. He/she would decide whether a patient would require technology based consultation or in-person consultation. Telemedicine consultation should not be anonymous and both patient and the RMP need to know each other’s identity.

For issuing a prescription , the RMP should ask the age of patient and in case of doubt, seek age proof. Multiple technologies could be used to deliver telemedicine consultations — video, audio or text.

If physical examination is critical for consultation, then an RMP should not proceed until a physical examination could be arranged.

The guidelines were also given for technology platforms enabling telemedicine. The technology platforms — mobile apps, websites etc. — should ensure that the consumers were consulting with the RMPs duly registered with national medical councils or respective State medical council.

Technology platforms based on artificial intelligence (AI)/ machine learning are not allowed to counsel the patients or prescribe any medicineto them. Only an RMP is entitled to counsel or prescribe and has to directly communicate with the patient in this regard. New technologies like AI, IoT etc can assist or support an RMP on patient evaluation.

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Printable version | Apr 4, 2020 12:13:33 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/cities/Hyderabad/govt-issues-guidelines-for-telemedicine/article31167340.ece

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