The Medical Protection Society welcomes the Health Professions Council of SA’s updated guidelines on telemedicine, confirming MPS’s position that telemedicine should be supported to help combat the spread of COVID-19.
Graham Howarth, head of medical services – Africa, for MPS said:
“The challenges posed by COVID-19 are unprecedented in recent times and remote consultations are a vital part of the effort to combat the spread of the virus.
“This is why MPS has supported healthcare professionals and been clear that members can seek assistance from us for matters arising from remote consultations.
“We extended such support to include remote consultations for new patients in the same country, where it is not possible or in the patient’s best interests to be treated by their usual doctor.”
The recent update from HPCSA confirms this position.
HPCSA’s Notice to amend Telemedicine Guidelines during COVID-19 states that:
Telehealth should preferably be practised in circumstances where there is an already established practitioner-patient relationship. Where such a relationship does not exist, practitioners may still consult using telehealth provided that such consultations are done in the best clinical interest of patients.
“This aligns with the support we have been providing members and we welcome the new guidance as a positive step in South Africa’s efforts to contain COVID-19. This news will be equally welcomed by many healthcare professionals working on the front line.
“MPS realises this is an extremely challenging time for all healthcare professionals and is working to ensure doctors can treat patients in a safe and effective way.
“As part of our package to support healthcare professionals’ personal and financial wellbeing, MPS last week announced that members in South Africa who have experienced a drop in their private practice income will receive the equivalent of two months membership for free.”
Advice on practicing telemedicine
Where in-person consultations are not feasible, doctors must consider whether a remote consultation is in the patient’s best interests and that they can adequately assess the patient remotely. Doctors should request the medical records from the patient’s previous doctor if possible.
During remote consultation, both doctor and patient must be able to reliably identify each other.
In all circumstances, doctors should document their considerations, communicate clearly with the patient and ensure they practise in accordance with applicable laws and regulations.
MPS has outlined a range of advice for doctors considering a remote consultation at www.medicalprotection.org and members can contact MPS directly for guidance.
Issued by Medical Protection Society