World Health Organization defines telemedicine as “The delivery of health-care services, where distance is a critical factor, by all health-care professionals using information and communications technologies for the exchange of valid information for diagnosis, treatment and prevention of disease and injuries, research and evaluation, and the continuing education of health-care workers, with the aim of advancing the health of individuals and communities.”
NEJM Catalyst defines telehealth as “The delivery and facilitation of health and health-related services including medical care, provider and patient education, health information services, and selfcare via telecommunications and digital communication technologies.”
In general, telemedicine is used to denote clinical service delivered by a Registered medical practitioner while telehealth is a broader term of use of technology for health and health related services including telemedicine.
Registered Medical Practitioner (RMP) - a person who is enrolled in the State Medical Register or the Indian Medical Register under the IMC Act 1956 is entitled to provide telemedicine consultation to patients from any part of India.
RMP may use any telemedicine tool suitable for carrying out technology-based patient consultation e.g. telephone, video, devices connected over LAN, WAN, Internet, mobile or landline phones, Chat Platforms like WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger etc., or Mobile App or internet based digital platforms for telemedicine or data transmission systems like Skype/ email/ fax etc. Irrespective of the tool of communication used, the core principles of telemedicine practice remain
It provides norms and protocols relating to physician-patient relationship; issues of liability and negligence; evaluation, management and treatment; informed consent; continuity of care; referrals for emergency services; medical records; privacy and security of the patient records and exchange of information; prescribing; and reimbursement; health education and counseling.
Like any other technology, the technology used for telemedicine services can be abused. It has some risks, drawbacks and limitations, which can be mitigated through appropriate training, enforcement of standards, protocols and guidelines.
These guidelines should be used in conjunction with the other national clinical standards, protocols, policies and procedures.
The professional judgment of a Registered Medical Practitioner should be the guiding principle for all telemedicine consultations: An RMP is well positioned to decide whether a technology-based consultation is sufficient or an in-person review is needed. Practitioner shall exercise proper discretion and not compromise on the quality of care. Seven elements need to be considered before beginning any telemedicine consultation. They are as follows.
To read the complete guidelines, click here.
Source : AIIMS