- The American Medical Association has adopted new telehealth and telemedicine guidelines for ethical practice that will help physicians understand how fundamental responsibilities may change when digitally interacting with patients, the group announced Monday during its annual meeting.
- The guiding principles, developed by the group's Council on Ethics and Judicial Affairs over the course of three years and ratified by votes from physicians across the country, acknowledge that a coordinated effort is needed to achieve telemedicine goals and avoid pitfalls.
- AMA EVP and CEO James L. Madara slammed digital health efforts at the meeting earlier this week stating, "it's the digital snake oil of the early 21st century."
The AMA's guidelines have called on physicians that are working with telemedicine vendors to inform patients about limitations to their services and on how to make follow-up care arrangements. They also say users should be encouraged to notify their primary care doctors when they have engaged with a provider online and physicians should advocate for policies and initiatives that promote access to telehealth and telemedicine services.
“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,” AMA board member Jack Resneck said in a statement.
As telehealth and telemedicine capabilities evolve and improve, they are offering more sophisticated ways to conduct patient evaluations, the group noted.
Roy Schoenberg, CEO of telemedicine company American Well, welcomed the AMA’s new guidance, Forbes reported. “The AMA’s resolution adds key guidance for physicians who were on the fence so far," Schoenberg told Forbes. "It describes the professional ethics that, if followed, will allow safe healthcare to be extended via technology.”