Wednesday, April 10, 2013

amednews: Unseen and online: What are the limits for patient care?

With telemedicine expanding, doctors and others are puzzling out if there are acceptable substitutes for an in-person medical visit.

Sue Ter Maat, April 8, 2013

Having clinicians diagnose and treat patients over the Internet, without their ever having seen those patients in person, is making a comeback.

In the early 2000s, a state medical board shut down one attempt to make such online care legitimate. But today, in an age of greater comfort with telemedicine and delivering care over the Internet, the strategy is getting a closer look, as health leaders try to find ways to reduce costs and help expand patient access. Regulations generally don’t declare explicitly that treatment of previously unknown patients over the Internet is wrong. This provides an opening for an activity once associated mostly with online pill mills to be embraced by mainstream medicine.

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