The Covid 19 pandemic demands that health care professionals rethink how they deliver care in ways that reduce the risk of infection to both the health care professional and the patient. Using telemedicine is one approach that can keep both patients and health care professionals safe.
Telemedicine is still medicine and the same standard of care must apply to telemedicine consultations as for face to face consultations.
You must ensure that you practice in accordance with any applicable laws and regulations around the diagnosis, treatment, provision of prescriptions to patients. Some indemnifiers may wish to be notified if you use telemedicine for patients under 16 years of age.
It is important to consider the security of telemedicine consultations and you may need to seek specialist advice that the system used is fit for purpose. The quality of the link depends on the equipment used by both the provider and the patient and the internet connection. You should have a plan in place to use if the technology fails. The consultation needs to be carried out in an environment where patient confidentiality can be maintained.
All patients should be advised of the limitations of the telemedicine consultations.
Documentation of the consultation is even more critical in telemedicine.
It is important to consider if you can adequately assess the patient remotely. If in doubt you should recommend the patient to seek face to face medical assistance. If a face to face consultation is preferred but not possible then you should inform the patient of this and of why you have chosen to use telemedicine.
It is advisable to limit your telemedicine consultations to patients that are known to you and where you have their full medical record available to you. If you are doing a telemedicine consultation with a new patient you should ensure that you have already in your possession the medical records of that patient. You need to ensure safety netting and follow–up is in place for patients. And of course it sounds obvious but both doctor and patient should be able to reliably identify each other.