There is no need to be in the dark about telemedicine and tele-consultations in Australia. The Medical Board of Australia’s Guidelines for technology-based consultations outline the steps and standards of care you are expected to follow in providing care via telehealth. Every health practitioner must be satisfied that it is safe and clinically appropriate to conduct the consultation via technology. The RACGP’s Guide to providing telephone and video consultations gives helpful guidance on when telehealth might be clinically appropriate. You can also find the RACP’s Telehealth: Guidelines and Practical Tips and the RANZCP’s Professional Practice Standards and Guides for Telepsychiatry useful resources.

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Items to consider

Can you identify the patient to your satisfaction?

Confirm the patient’s identity and contact details as per your practice policies.

Does the patient have capacity?

Are you concerned about the patient’s capacity? It is extremely important you document your assessment, given that the technology may be making communication more challenging. It is also imperative to record whether there was anyone else present.

Does the patient consent to the consultation being provided by telehealth?

Don’t forget you need to specifically confirm the patient consents to the telehealth consultation. The consent process should involve discussing with patients the risks and benefits of telehealth, including its limitations. A patient’s verbal consent at the time of the consultation is sufficient and this should be recorded in the patient’s medical record.

Privacy is also a critical issue to bear in mind. Practitioners may need to check whether patients are comfortable to continue the consultation where there is someone else present.

Is everything documented?

Clear and careful documentation of consultations is extremely important. If there are ever any questions about the consultation, like- why you reached a particular diagnosis and treatment plan, or what you discussed with the patient, having a clear record will be very important. 

Tele-Health during Covid

While the Medical Board has said that there will be no ‘watering down’ of professional standards during the COVID-19 pandemic, it has also said that “if a concern is raised about your decisions and actions, the specific facts will be considered, including the factors relevant to your working environment. We would also take account of any relevant information about resources, guidelines or protocols in place at the time.”

Let the team at Tego insurance help you mitigate your risks

We are Australian medical indemnity insurance providers and cover your practice with medical indemnity insurance, doctors indemnity insurance, gp medical indemnity insurance, medical malpractice insurance, medical practice insurance, and more. If you are a health practitioner with Tego, we offer 24/7 medico-legal advice and support in regards to what you need to know about offering telehealth to your patients.

This publication is general in nature and is not comprehensive or constitutes legal or medical advice. You should seek legal, medical or other professional advice before relying on any content, and practice proper clinical decision making with regard to individual circumstances. Persons implementing any recommendations contained in this publication must exercise their own independent skill or judgment or seek appropriate professional advice relevant to their own particular practice. Compliance with any recommendations will not in any way guarantee discharge of the duty of care owed to patients and others coming into contact with the health professional or practice. Tego Insurance Pty Ltd is not responsible to you or anyone else for any loss suffered in connection with the use of this information. All content on this page has been written in a generic way, and has not been presented with any knowledge of your personal objectives or financial needs.