Telemedicines Guidelines have been updated several times since 09 March 2020 in the face of the COVID-19.
The changes made on 17 April 2020, are such that:
“Telehealth should preferably be practised in circumstances where there is an already established practitioner-patient relationship, and where such a relationship does not exist, practitioners may still consult using Telehealth provided such consultations are done in the best clinical interest of patients”.
“Although practitioners may charge fees for consultations undertaken through Telehealth platforms, the Council strongly cautions against practices that may amount to over-servicing and perverse incentives”.
The original clause (b) said that: " Telehealth is only permissible in circumstances where there is an already established practitioner-patient relationship, except where Telepsychology and/or Telepsychiatry is involved, in which case telehealth is permissible even without an established practitioner-patient relationship”
The original Clause (c) stated that “Practitioners may charge a fee for services rendered through a telehealth platform”.
The Ethical Rules of Conduct for Health Practitioners registered under the Health Professions Act remain in force even when practising Telehealth.
The HPCSA will soon after the end of the pandemic inform practitioners about the continued use, or otherwise, of this guidance.