Complaints to the national medical practitioner regulator arising from telehealth appointments have increased by 413% in three years, a significant number of these relating to prescriptions.
The data provided to Guardian Australia by the Medical Board of Australia comes as the body prepares to release new guidelines for health practitioners and companies that provide telehealth consultations with patients.
Guardian Australia understands the guidelines, to be made public by Friday, will state that real-time video or phone consults are “preferred” over real-time text-based consults such as online chat because identification is harder to establish without video.
The guidelines will not ban real-time text-based consults but they will mean online quizzes, for example, can not be used to diagnose and prescribe medications to patients.
“Prescribing or providing healthcare for a patient with whom you have never consulted, whether face-to-face, via video or telephone is not good practice and is not supported by the board,” the draft guidelines state.
“This includes requests for medication communicated by text, email or online that do not take place in real-time and are based on the patient completing a health questionnaire but where the practitioner has never spoken with the patient.”
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Source: The Guardian, 20 May 2023