Why is telemedicine a challenge to the regulators?

Maurice Mars


Regulators feel that telemedicine presents challenges. In part, this is due to the assumption that telemedicine is new and unproven, and must therefore be regulated in order to protect the patient. Regulation requires clear and careful definition of what is to be regulated. The proposed Health Professions Council of South Africa’s definition of telemedicine has deficiencies. Telemedicine is not new nor is it a special discipline or a new branch of medicine. It involves the use of the use of information and communication technologies in the provision of health care over distance. This includes the telephone. Instead of proposing a one size fits all approach to regulations and guidelines a more pragmatic approach to issues such as signed, written consent, prior doctor patient relationship, and licensure is required. It is proposed that regulators should seek to find deficiencies in existing guidelines and regulations and address these if required and that clinical, operational, ethical, and guidelines should be developed by the governing bodies or associations of the various clinical disciplines using information and communication technologies in the provision of health care. An enabling regulatory environment is required if we are to realize the goals of improved access, service delivery and quality of care for the rural communities of South Africa through telemedicine.

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Telemedicine, ethical guidelines; legislaitno and licensure

Cite this article

South African Journal of Bioethics and Law 2010;3(2):55.

Article History

Date submitted: 2010-10-05
Date published: 2010-12-15

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