Telemedicine—an adjunct to comprehensive care; not an end in itself

The College of Physicians and Surgeons notes that:

“Physicians are accountable every time they decide that a physical examination is not required.

Telemedicine has the potential to reduce the risk of error by providing physicians with considerably more information. However, a decision to rely on a virtual visit to conclude a medical assessment for an acute concern will always be a high stakes one, which requires thoughtful consideration and superior clinical judgment.

The College’s depth and breadth of experience reviewing physician practices and investigating complaints indicates that telemedicine will add value for patients and providers if it forms part of an integrated whole, such as a full-service primary care clinic, a provincial or regional specialty service, or a robust outreach program for people living in remote locations. Significant risk is anticipated if physicians attempt to use telemedicine to provide episodic services in isolation to patients they are not familiar with. Telemedicine holds great promise as an adjunct to well-organized systems of care. Without the support of such systems, it is expected that telemedicine will be neither efficient nor safe.”

– (The College Connector Volume 2 | No. 3 | May / June 2014)

For more information see:

May/June 2014 College of Physicians and Surgeons article on Telemedicine

The College’s professional standard Telemedicine

An editorial in the BCMJ by Deputy Registrar Dr. W.R. Vroom, titled:
Does telemedicine need stricter rules for engagement?