What do Telemedicine and Telehealth Mean for Informed Consent?

Do your informed consent forms recognize the aspect of telemedicine? With the American Medical Association adopting new telemedicine ground rules, now is the time to review and update your forms.

In June, the American Medical Association adopted new policy ground rules for physicians using telemedicine when treating patients.

With these rules, it is now more important than ever that informed consent forms recognize the telemedicine aspect of care. When creating telehealth informed consent forms, you should involve your personal attorney and consult your local medical association as some states have developed specific telehealth laws.

Additionally, the Federation of State Medical Boards released their model policy as reference to the state medical boards in 2014. Their report and recommendations are available online for your reference. 

Informed Consent & Telehealth Risk Management

From a risk management perspective, when it comes to informed consent for telehealth, there are several elements to consider.

In addition to the standard components of an informed consent form – the risks, benefits and alternatives of treatment – the new form should be supplemented by:

  • Identifying the treatment provider and any other staff member or provider who may be present or assist with the telehealth exam/consultation. You will also want to identify the credentials of these individuals.
  • Identifying the possibility that medical information may be shared with third parties if and when necessary for the continuity of care.
  • Describing the telehealth process of how the provider and patient will communicate to include the technology which will be used.
  • Providing a summary of services that may or may not be provided or accomplished via tele-communications such as prescription refills, education, etc.
  • Explaining the risks and benefits of telehealth services as well as how follow up and monitoring is conducted and when in-person treatment may be necessary.
  • Confirming that the physician determines whether the condition can be diagnosed and/or treated appropriately via telemedicine.
  • Detailing what to do if the technology fails (e.g. transmission errors such as denials of service, slowness and computer or software malfunctions).
  • Detailing security measures, such as encryption, for the protection of protected health information (PHI) and personally identifiable information (PHII).
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