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FEATURE



        Telehealth Practice Management




        Main Point:                                                              practitioner must ensure that all
                                                                                 these requirements are met. GoodX
        Telehealth has become a fantastic                                        Software assists practitioners to
        means to assist patients throughout                                      comply with these rules.
        the Covid-19 lockdowns and beyond.
        This article reminds Practitioners                                       The diversified purpose of Telehealth
        about the diverse purposes,                                              has become to promote healthcare to:
        requirements and benefits of
        Telehealth.                                                              1.  Patients in underdeveloped areas,
                                                                                 2.  Patients at risk to the practice
        Article Body:                                                                (e.g. Covid-19),
                                                                                 3.  Patients who cannot travel, e.g.
        The original objective of Telehealth                                         frail patients,
        as established by the National       as a remote consultation between    4.  Patients who urgently need
        Department of Health was to:         a practitioner and patient via          assistance without placing an
                                             telephone or virtual platform. The      extra burden on ER facilities,
        1.  deliver healthcare services at   HPCSA expanded the application      5.  Patients who live too far from a
            a distance to South African      scope to include patients who do        Practitioner, effectively eliminating
            communities in under-served      not have an existing practitioner-      the barriers of geographical
            areas,                           patient relationship.                   distances,
        2.  to alleviate the human resource                                      6.  Patients have become aware
            crisis as experienced, and       The HPCSA expressly referred            of the immense benefits of
        3.  to improve the links and         practitioners to ethical Rule 27A,      Telehealth, and we suggest that
            communication between            which are the primary duties of         Telehealth in its new form is here
            developed healthcare facilities and  healthcare practitioners. Here      to stay and that practitioners
            the underdeveloped rural areas.  follow the sub-rules that specifically   will do well to become more
                                             pertain to Telehealth:                  acquainted with this form of
        On 26 March 2020, the HPCSA                                                  healthcare.
        issued their first letter to practitioners   •   Sub-rule (a) states that a
        after the government announced the      practitioner shall at all times   The benefits of Telehealth are
        National State of Disaster following    act in the best interests of     numerous and include the following:
        the rise in reported Covid-19 cases in   their patients; (This is the
        South Africa.                           overarching rule when it comes   1.  There is less chance of catching
                                                to healthcare. All actions will be   new illnesses by keeping social
        The two main measures implemented       measured based on this rule.);       distancing from other patients,
        by the government to limit the spread   •   Subrule (b) states that a    2.  It increases the practice’s
        of the disease are:                     practitioner shall respect patient   efficiency to assist a broader
                                                confidentiality, privacy, choices    base of patients,
        1.  social distancing to prevent        and dignity;                     3.  Patients with limited mobility have
            infection and                    •   Subrule (f) states that a           better access to healthcare, e.g.
        2.  self-isolation by those infected by   practitioner shall maintain        frail patients,
            the disease.                        proper and effective             4.  The whole consultation process
                                                communication with                   is quicker for patients who, e.g.
        Medical practitioners provide essential   their patients and other           don’t have to travel,
        services to the community. As such,     professionals;                   5.  It is cost-effective, seeing
        the HPCSA urged practitioners to     •   Subrule (g) states that a           that patients can engage in
        continue providing medical services     practitioner shall, except in an     Telehealth rather than go to an
        with reasonable skill and competency    emergency, obtain informed           emergency room for no good
        while also keeping the safety of their   consent from a patient or,          reason,
        patients and themselves in mind.        if the patient is unable to      6.  Allows multiple team members to
        To ensure the safety of patients,       provide consent for treatment        interact and collaborate in patient
        Telehealth was introduced as a means    themselves, from their next of       care, e.g. specialists.
        to assist with social distancing without   kin; and
        compromising on good healthcare      •   Subrule (h) states that a       GoodX Courses presents an
        services. Telehealth should only        practitioner shall keep accurate   accredited online CPD course to train
        be used if it is in the patient’s best   patient records.                Practitioners and Supporting Staff
        interest.                                                                members to implement Telehealth in
                                             When choosing a platform for        their practices effectively. For more
        The HPCSA has defined Telehealth     Telehealth consultations, the       information, see courses.goodx.co.za.



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