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Medical Council Revises Statement on Telehealth - Aug 2016medical council telehealth

A new statement on telehealth practices is intended to make sure current guidelines don’t get in the way of innovative IT solutions, Medical Council chair Andrew Connolly says.

“When I talk to GP colleagues and others they are really quite excited by some of the opportunities IT provide," he says, referring to rural health initiatives in particular.

The document clarifies definitions of the terms “in-person”, “telehealth” and “video consultation”.

It also reminds practitioners that any treatment offered online should be to the same standard as an in-person consultation and so include updating the patient’s clinical records and notifying his or her primary care provider.

Particularly important is consideration of whether a physical examination would add “critical information”. If this is the case, the patient may have to be referred to another practitioner before treatment is provided or further diagnostic services requested.

Doctors are also reminded of rules around prescribing: “Issuing prescriptions by electronic means only does not meet current New Zealand legislative standards,” as all prescriptions must be personally signed.

Mr Connolly says this is the first review in only three years and, with technology changing rapidly, another could well be required in the next three to four years.

Click here to read the full statement.