5 September 2022

The Doctor will zoom you now - Medical Council issues Telemedicine Guidance for Doctors

Written by Ciara Hanratty

The arrival of the Covid 19 pandemic led to telemedicine, with its use of technology, telephones, websites and apps, becoming an increasingly integral part of healthcare provision.

The Medical Council’s online publication “Telemedicine Phone and Video Consultations A guide for doctors” provides information and advice for doctors in relation to a variety of matters, including obtaining patient consent, continuing professional development (CPD) and maintaining patient privacy and confidentiality. This publication complements the Medical Council’s guide for patients in relation to telemedicine - a resource which it may be useful to refer patients to in advance of a telemedicine consultation.

The following are some key points from the Medical Council’s guidance for doctors:

  • The principles of care are the same for a telemedicine consultation as an in-person consultation.
  • Telemedicine does not alter the ethical, professional or legal obligations of doctors.
  • The principles that apply in relation to obtaining patient consent, either to conduct a consultation using telemedicine or to any treatment being provided remain the same.
  • Doctors providing telemedicine are expected to maintain competence in the technologies and communication skills required for telemedicine and training in this area can be part of a doctor’s mandatory CPD.
  • The obligations imposed by the Data Protection Act 2018 to ensure that any personal information relating to a patient is stored and processed in line with the principles of the General Data Protection Regulation must be complied with.

  • There are limitations to telemedicine and these are something which any doctor must be conscious of when arranging a telemedicine consultation with a patient.

The guide refers to and is designed to be used in conjunction with the Guide to Professional Conduct and Ethics for Registered Medical Practitioners (Amended) 8th Edition.

The guide is available on the Medical Council’s website: https://www.medicalcouncil.ie/public-information/telemedicine-phone-and-video-consultations-guide-for-patients/telemedicine-for-doctors-booklet.pdf

If you would like further information or have questions regarding the processes involved, please contact Ciara Hanratty.

**This information is for guidance purposes only and does not constitute, nor should be regarded, as a substitute for taking legal advice that is tailored to your circumstances.

About the author

Ciara Hanratty

Senior Associate

Ciara Hanratty is a Senior Associate in the Healthcare team of Carson McDowell’s Dublin office. Ciara works in a general practice in Dublin, predominantly practising in the area of personal injuries law as well as acting on behalf of members of an association before their statutory body.

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