Telehealth Ethical Practices

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telehealth-ethical-practicesIn our current economic landscape, where the digital realm matters as much as the physical, as a practitioner in the medical field, you must have an avenue wherein your patients can reach you without requiring them to do an in-person visit. This is where telehealth comes in. Telehealth is a revolutionary health-service practice that enables patients to contact medical experts, counselors, psychologists, and more remotely.

It is a highly accessible and convenient alternative for patients. It has abundant benefits that prove not only to patients but practitioners as well. By embracing telehealth ethical practices, healthcare professionals ensure the delivery of care is both effective and ethically sound, addressing key considerations such as confidentiality, informed consent, and equitable access to care.

The Benefits of Telehealth

The extent of care a patient can get from telehealth is highly expansive. The following are a few examples of care one can get with telehealth:

  • Post-surgical appointment
  • Prescription management
  • Therapy
  • General check-up
  • Eye exams
  • Nutrition counseling
  • Skincare

Since telehealth, patients and medical practitioners have reaped from its benefits. The following are some of the wonders of this innovative medical practice.

More Options

Since the patient is not limited to access to healthcare professionals in their area, telehealth allows them to get care from a specialist based elsewhere. If the patient requires care in a specific area and there is an expert in that field in a different state, telehealth gives them access to that medical expert without traveling a vast distance.

Guide to Telehealth Ethical Practices: Ensure Care

Telehealth isn’t limited to conventional office hours. When patients are busy during the work day, they can opt for telehealth to address their needs after hours. Many medical practitioners allow remote consultations past their regular office hours. Otherwise, a patient can opt for an expert working in a different time zone.

Lower Cost

Virtual visits are marginally less expensive than in-person visits. This doesn’t account for the money one spends on gas or the income one loses for missing a workday.

It Removes Time Issues

The best benefit of telehealth is that it cuts travel time and negates the need for the patient to get time off of work. If the patient has children they need to care for, they no longer have to hire a babysitter or bring their child to a hospital or clinic, possibly risking their health.

Telehealth allows patients to receive care whenever and wherever they want, whether from their work or the comforts of their homes.

The Downsides and Ethical Issues With Telehealth

downsides of telemedicineWhile telehealth — also known as telemedicine — is an immensely innovative avenue that has allowed more patients to reach out to more medical practitioners, it isn’t without its downsides.

For one, if you have a virtual interaction with someone who is not your regular healthcare professional, they may need easy access to your medical history, which is vital for patient care. Regarding telehealth, opting for your regular doctor is still highly advised.

Another downside to telehealth is that certain cases may only be given the correct or proper diagnosis using certain machines. That being said, although a patient has already opted for telehealth, they may still be asked to come in for a lab test, which completely negates the convenience of telehealth.

While telehealth is cheaper than in-person visits, if the patient’s insurance company doesn’t cover them, they’ll still end up paying more.

On top of all that, the rise of telehealth has also brought about discussions regarding its ethical implications, even legal ones. As a medical practitioner who sees and wants to take advantage of its benefits, how can you navigate its ethical issues?

Be Transparent On the Limitations of Telehealth

As we discussed, telehealth has certain downsides as opposed to in-person visits. With that said, make your patient aware of these downsides. Remind them that, if they are not a regular patient, tell them their medical information may not be readily available if that is an issue.

If their case requires them to visit a lab, remind them of this so that they can immediately plan an in-person visit. Be transparent about every limitation to avoid ethical issues.

Make the Patient Aware of Telehealth Policies

patients are aware of telehealth policiesAnother thing patients need to be aware of when it comes to telehealth is its policies. Inform the patients of the comprehensive policies and guidelines of telehealth. Make this standard practice to avoid misinformation and mishandling of cases.

Some examples of these policies are handling medical information, consent, and technological security. 

Opt For In-Person Visits Whenever Necessary

If absolutely necessary, tell a patient to opt for an in-person rather than a remote visit. There are several cases wherein a patient must be in a clinic or hospital for proper care. This includes cases that require the use of laboratory machines or more dire health problems.

Whenever this happens, immediately inform the patient to visit your clinic or their regular clinic if they’re new to you. It’s better to handle them by those who carry their entire medical history.

Review Telehealth Policies

Make it a habit to review telehealth policies. The medical industry constantly progresses with technological advancements, regulation changes, and new practices. Keep an eye on new practices and regulation changes in particular.

Know the current protocols and requirements and adjust your practice when necessary. This is how you avoid ethical issues and legal implications. It’s easy to put yourself in risky situations, despite your best efforts, when unaware of recent regulation changes.

Invest in Excellent Telehealth Technology

It is vastly integral that you protect patient data and uphold unyielding confidentiality. This practice must be held in an even higher regard regarding telehealth. You expose your patient’s medical information when you conduct medical check-ups remotely.

To mitigate this, invest in platforms with stringent encryption and authentication and compliant with current regulations. Have a strong I.T. infrastructure protecting your and your patients’ protected health information. Not only will you protect your patients, but you’ll also protect your practice from bad actors.

Conduct Audits and Assessments

Conduct regular audits and assessments to find certain areas in your telehealth practice that may require changes. See which areas in your practice may be held liable for ethical issues. Review consultation practices, adherence, and diagnosis practices, and develop solutions if necessary.

You want to find problems before they arise and cut them off from your practice so they don’t cause you ethical and legal issues later. With this practice, you will perform better, and your peace of mind will also be uncompromised.

Practice Continuous Patient Care

skin cancer talking with her doctor patient careWhen you continue incorporating telehealth in your practice, be mindful of your patient’s long-term welfare. Establish protocols that make communication between you and your patients seamless. Check up on them occasionally if their case requires continuous updates. If necessary, encourage them to visit your clinic in person so you can care for them better.

Hiring a medical virtual assistant can prove beneficial in this regard. You can leave this task to a virtual assistant and have them continuously communicate with patients regarding appointments and check-up schedules.

Collaborate With Other Healthcare Professionals

Widen your network if you want to have a better telehealth practice. It allows you to keep updated on current regulations and new practices, and you can provide your patients with another healthcare professional should they need a second opinion or require another expert from a different field.

If you already have a wide network, contact your peers and discuss telehealth practices with them. It’s also good practice to learn from other healthcare professionals engaging in the same practice.

Encourage Patient Feedback

doctor using laptop and taking about health problems with his mature patientEncourage your patients to provide feedback and input whenever you’ve finished their case. Have an assistant gather information about your patients’ concerns, suggestions, satisfactions, and other factors that you require to make your practice better. This enhances your overall practice, and it makes your patients feel heard.

Promote Accessibility and Patient Support

Make it incredibly easy for your patients to contact you regarding telehealth. Make your lines readily available for them. This is yet another example where a virtual assistant can help with your practice. Assign a virtual assistant to manage your lines, tend to patients, and set appointments for you and your patients.

VMeDx stands ready to support you in this capacity. We specialize in hiring highly qualified medical virtual assistants and provide further training to equip them for assisting in your practice, with a strong emphasis on telehealth ethical practices. Our virtual assistants bring experience from the medical industry and possess extensive training to meet your patients’ needs, especially within the digital realm, while upholding telehealth ethical practices.

As you navigate the complexities of telehealth ethics, your practice is made easier and safer with the help of a competent and diligent assistant who wants only the best for you and your patients.


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