Online medical consultations: understand what the law says about the modality

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Online medical consultations: understand what the law says about the modality

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The approval of the use of telemedicine in Brazil, which provides for the online medical consultations, has been discussed for some time. Previously, the resolution was almost passed in 2018, but its membership has been postponed.

The pandemic of new coronavirus rushed the discussion and at the end of March the Federal Council of Medicine (CFM) liberated the use of technology during social isolation.

One of the reasons for this temporary authorization was to protect the health of the population, who would no longer need to leave their homes and expose themselves to risks in case of routine visits to the doctor.

Furthermore, in times of difficult mobility, at online medical consultations they can reach patients from remote regions.

Although it seems like a simple solution, telemedicine was released in the country with a series of rules and restrictions, which must be followed by clinics, doctors and the patient. The modality is still temporary, but if successful it may have a definitive character in the future.

Therefore, it is important to know the details about the use of online medical consultations in order to avoid falling into scams or going through unskilled professionals who don’t follow the rules.

After all, the technology came to help the patient and not cause inconvenience, especially in terms of health. In this post, we’ll talk a little more about online medical consultations and what benefits they can bring to doctors and patients.

You will learn:

  • What are online medical consultations?
  • What are the benefits of online medical consultations?
  • What is allowed in an online medical consultation?
  • What are the main restrictions?
  • How can the patient have access to the modality?
  • All specialties can make use of online medical consultations?

Want to know more details on the subject? So, let’s go ahead!

What are online medical appointments?

Online medical consultations, also called telemedicine (“tele”, meaning in Latin, “at a distance”), cover any medical practice performed at a distance with the support of technology.

Around the world, many countries have already joined the modality in its entirety and use it safely. Over here, the telemedicine it had been used since the 90s, but not completely with basic actions, for example, the issuance of online reports.

Most of its facilities were only released at the beginning of social isolation in March 2021 because of the new coronavirus. Among them are online medical consultations, electronic prescriptions, telemonitoring and tele-consultation.

On March 23, the Ministry of Health authorized online medical consultations for professionals in the Unified Health System (SUS), private individuals and in supplementary health.

Since then, telemedicine has gained prominence in the UK residents population that has adapted and used the facility.

What are the benefits of online medical consultations?

One of the most constant criticisms of the population is about the lack of physical contact between doctors and patients, even in consultations carried out in person. So, you may be asking yourself: what is the advantage of online medical consultations?

The main reason for the approval of telemedicine on an emergency basis was to help social isolation and protect the population from contamination by COVID-19.

This way, the patient does not need to go to the office or hospital in case of simple symptoms, like a bellyache.

Another positive point of this regulation is the possibility of medical assistance reaching more remote areas, where there are no professionals specialized in different areas.

Thus, in this period of reduced mobility, the patient will not be without the necessary consultation. In addition, those patients who use controlled and continuous medication have the facility to connect with their doctor for the renewal of the prescription.

However, it is worth mentioning that in some cases physical visits and certain exams are still essential.

What is allowed in an online medical consultation?

The resolution approved in March has a series of rules that must be followed by the players involved, in particular, the doctors and clinics that offer the service.

Therefore, the consumer needs to be aware if they are being met when scheduling medical appointments online. At the moment, tthree types of online medical appointments are authorized by CFM. Are they:

  • Teleorientation – referring patients who are in social isolation to various specialties.
  • Telemonitoring – which allows monitoring the patient’s health or specific illness panorama with the aspect of medical supervision or guidance.
  • Teleinterconsultation – authorizes doctors of different specialties to talk to each other to assist in the correct diagnosis of the patient being served.

Furthermore, the online medical consultation can be performed by doctors who attend by SUS or in the supplementary and private network, provided you have the appropriate tools for remote work.

The modalities of telemedicine in Brazil must guarantee the integrity, security and confidentiality of the information, as determined by article 2 of Ordinance No. 467, published in the Official Gazette (DOU). For more details, Click here.

This item is extremely important since doctors and clinics can maintain an electronic medical record of their patients.

Therefore, the security of this personal data, even more with the approval of the LGPD, is an obligation of those who provide the online customer service. If you have a clinic and are interested in using telemedicine, be sure to purchase a reliable platform.

Currently, there are several quality options on the market to assist in adhering to the new modality. Keep in mind that technology must be a support for an already consolidated service, so also count on specialists trained to serve the public.

Be sure to offer training to professionals who have any difficulties with technological platforms.

What are the main restrictions?

It is necessary to emphasize that the approval in emergency character due to the pandemic also brought a series of restrictions in the use of the modality. This is because the discussion on the regulation of online medical consultations had not yet been finalized by CFM.

This way, the citizen interested in scheduling an online medical consultation needs to check the seriousness of the company or the doctor in charge. To identify possible fraud or low quality of care, we will list some restrictions of the rules in force:

The doctor cannot prescribe treatments (whether medicated or procedures), without performing a physical examination on the patient, except in cases of urgency or emergency and the proven inability to do so.

Even so, when the examination can be done, the patient must undergo the procedure immediately. It is unclear in the regulation which platforms doctors can use.

Meantime, social media, such as WhatsApp and Facebook, should only be used to support contact, such as distribution of educational materials, clarification of doubts and eventual submissions of exams. In addition, this type of contact cannot be paid.

How can the patient have access to the modality?

As we mentioned earlier, the regulation that allows online medical consultations covers public and private services throughout the UK residents territory. However, how to access this benefit?

To facilitate patients’ access to virtual consultations through the Unified Health System (SUS), the Ministry of Health created the Virtual Office. The initiative is a partnership between the Secretariat of Primary Health Care (SAPS) and the Albert Einstein Hospital.

Each municipality was responsible for registering physicians interested in using the tool. Patients can be attended to by doctors, nurses and other health unit professionals they already attend.

In the case of agreements, each company created its rules and possibilities, therefore, the contracted party needs to consult its network to know the availability of online services.

Those looking for private online medical consultations, on the other hand, have a number of options. To make sure that you are going to be trusted by doctors, it is important to do a good research on the credibility of the company and the actions taken by it.

Can all specialties use online medical appointments?

THE regulation does not make any kind of restriction on the specialties that can carry out medical consultations online. In this way, it is possible to schedule a conversation with any doctor who uses the modality.

However, as we have already said, for some diagnoses, it will be essential to carry out physical examinations, which confirm the clinical diagnosis. The regulation also allows for the exchange of information between professionals.

Thus, a general practitioner, for example, can consult a specialist doctor if he suspects that his patient has a disease in this area of ​​medicine. Thus, it is avoided that another online medical consultation is necessary to close the diagnosis.

In summary, online medical consultation tends to be very beneficial not only for patients, but also for doctors.

In addition to helping to combat the spread of the new coronavirus, it also allows people without access to basic health care to talk to doctors.

It is not yet known how the country will react to the modality when the pandemic is controlled in Brazil, but it is believed that online medical consultations are here to stay and should be part of the new reality of the population.

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