Tele consultancy in corona times has become a current trend in the healthcare sector. It has restructured the healthcare sector and has helped in lessening the burden on the hospitals and doctors.The health ministries and the governments have issued various tele consultancy guidelines to cope with the ongoing menace created by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Tele consultancy or telemedicine ha facilitated the patients in various ways. They can reach out to the doctors over the phone, video calls, chat boxes for consultation purposes.The guidelines issued by the governments around the world are somewhat similar in structures and they place an onus on the doctors to decide on whether the tele-consultation alone with being enough or a face to face interaction is necessary for the patients. Depending on the patient’s situation, doctors will advise the needed measure. Tele consultation can also be done between the doctors and the healthcare workers.
The guidelines by the governments
The governments around the world have issued some specific guidelines regarding tele-consultation and these guidelines are to be followed in every COVID-19 related health concern.
Here are some of the basic tele-consultation guidelines issued:
• Identification from both sides
The doctors are advised to collect patient’s details such as an address, contact number, and other personal details. The patient needs to have the same ability to verify the doctor’s credentials such as the registration number of the doctor.
There are some of the basic credentials which need to be given for a complete evaluation of the doctor and the patient during tele consultancy.
• Verification of age
Doctors need to ask the age of the patients to issue a valid prescription and for a document of proof. For minors, tele consultancy should be accompanied by an adult.
• Consent of patient
The consent of the patient iscompulsory to initiate a tele-consultation. The explicit consent of the patient is required via email, text message, audio, and video message. The same applies to the consultation between ahealth worker and the doctor as well.
• Prescribing the medicines
The doctors can prescribe medicines for the patients only after confirming the credentials of the patients and will have to provide a patient copy of the prescription. The doctors can prescribe over the counter medicines such as paracetamol and public emergency medicines.
• Fees for teleconsultation
For tele-consultation , the fees charged will be equivalent to the fees taken for a face to face consultation.
• Stop a teleconsultation
The patient and the doctor have the right to stop and discontinue a tele-consultation at any point in time.
Responsibility of the doctors
There are certain guidelines issued by the government regarding the responsibilities of a doctor in case of tele-consultations. They are as follows:
• Data privacy
The doctors are required to follow the guidelines laid down in case of data privacy of the patient and the existing regulations related to work ethics and confidentiality. They must adhere to the data protection and privacy laws as health care data is regarded as sensitive personal data.
The doctors cannot add patients to any virtual support groups without the permission of the patient. Doctors should be aware of the patient’s willingness.
• Data breach
The doctors shall not be held responsible for any kind of data breach of the patient. The doors cannot misuse a patient’s image and sensitive health data obtained in a tele-consultation.
The doctor will be responsible frmaintain the records of the tele-consultancy interactions with the patients and this includes the patient’s records, prescriptions, and other data.
• Doctor to doctor
Doctors can use tele-consultancy to consult other doctors or a patient under that doctor. The original doctor will be held responsible for the treatments given to the patient.
Tele consultancy has revolutionized the healthcare system and has eliminated the need to visit doctors for primary care purposes. The COVID-19 times are challenging and tele-consultancy has proved to be an efficient medium to date.
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