Medical Board of Australia - Revised telehealth guidelines now in effect
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Revised telehealth guidelines now in effect

01 Sep 2023

Updated telehealth guidelines took effect on 1 September 2023.

Under the updated guidelines:

  • Telehealth consultations continue as an important feature of healthcare in Australia.
  • Real-time doctor-patient consultations remain key to safe healthcare, including prescribing.
  • Providing healthcare, including prescribing, issuing certificates and referring, via questionnaire-based asynchronous web-based tools in the absence of a real-time patient-doctor consultation is not good practice.

The guidelines detail what the Board expects of doctors when they have telehealth consultations with patients. They cover practice before and during a consultation; follow-up and record keeping and international telehealth. There is a specific section on prescribing or providing healthcare if a doctor has not had a real-time consultation with a patient.

The standard in the new guidelines is consistent with previous guidelines and the Board’s code of conduct. But with the expansion of telehealth services, asynchronous consultations and healthcare have become more common. We realised we needed to be more specific about what good practice means in relation to asynchronous healthcare.

‘The interaction between a patient and a doctor is the foundation of any consultation. Providing healthcare, including prescribing, ordering tests and issuing certificates, relies on a doctor’s skill and judgment, including what is safe and appropriate based on the patient’s history,’ said Dr Anne Tonkin, Chair, Medical Board of Australia.

‘The guidelines close the gap that’s sprung up between online healthcare business models, including prescribing, and good medical practice and protect patients,’ she said.

Any doctor who does not meet the standard set out in the code of conduct and/or the telehealth guidelines, must be ready to explain how their management of the patient was appropriate and necessary in the circumstances.

For more information

  • For media enquiries, phone (03) 8708 9200.
  • Lodge an online enquiry form.
  • For registration enquiries, please phone 1300 419 495 (within Australia) +61 3 9125 3010 (overseas callers).

Page reviewed 1/09/2023