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AMA Adopts Telemedicine Ethics Guidelines

The American Medical Association (AMA), recognizing the changes being wrought in the industry by telemedicine, has announced a new set of ethical guidelines to help ensure that electronic doctor-patient interactions will remain safe and effective. The goal is to help physicians understand how their responsibilities may vary depending on whether they are seeing a patient in person or via telemedicine.

As explained by AMA board member Dr. Jack Resneck, “The new AMA ethical guidance notes that while new technologies and new models of care will continue to emerge, physicians’ fundamental ethical responsibilities do not change.”

The telemedicine ethics guidelines advise physicians to:

  • Inform patients about the limitations of telemedicine services
  • Instruct patients on how to arrange follow-up care
  • Encourage patients to get in touch with their primary care doctors whenever they use an online telemedicine service
  • Actively support initiatives and policies that would promote access to telemedicine services for all patients who may benefit from them

As technology evolves, the doctor-patient relationship must remain sacred. To preserve trust and facilitate accurate diagnosis and treatment, the AMA encourages physicians to use discretion when evaluating a patient’s condition, making a diagnosis, or prescribing treatment through telemedicine services.

The guidelines were developed over the last three years by the Council on Ethics and Judicial Affairs. At the AMA’s Annual Meeting this week, the House of Delegates voted strongly in favor of the new guidelines.

swyMed supports the new guidelines. Patients need to know that they will receive quality healthcare regardless of whether they’re using telemedicine or seeing the doctor in-person. A high-quality, HIPAA-compliant telemedicine platform provides assurance that physicians can safely and effectively diagnose and treat ailments.

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