The September issue of CMPA Perspective includes an insightful article on the exciting new world of telemedicine, how the use is proliferating, and what needs to be considered in terms of jurisdictional licensing, standards, patient consent, and privacy. Telehealth (or Telemedicine) is becoming mainstream as a result of widespread use across multiple geographies and reimbursement fees that are being developed as the efficiency of providing care at a distance becomes better established.
However, as in other areas of medicine and care delivery, a change in clinical process can lead to new and unforeseen issues that need to be addressed. Jurisdictional differences exist between provinces with respect to privacy, policy, record keeping, and licensing requirements — and demand careful consideration before proceeding. In addition, the patient’s location is critical when determining whether a physician is eligible for medical legal coverage in the event that an action is initiated. It is important to be fully conversant with the regulatory and medical/legal requirements in your province or jurisdiction before proceeding.
In a 2004 article in the BC Medical Journal titled “Legal issues confronting 21st-century telehealth”, lawyer Gary Dunn identified many of these same issues that are referenced in the CMPA piece. Considering it was written 10 years ago, Dunn’s article was forward thinking and insightful.
As telehealth consultations become more commonplace and integrated with electronic medical records, it is important to consider whether there are medical legal risks to be identified based on specific populations of patients or geographic location. If you are unsure, contact the CMPA or your provincial licensing body for assistance.