Are online doctor consultations legal

Who governs it, what are the guidelines and are online doctor consultations legal in South Africa? Yes, virtual consultations are legal and supported by the HPCSA – here’s what you need to know

Ophthalmologist's Department

In today's fast-paced world, healthcare is evolving to become more accessible and convenient, and one avenue gaining traction is online doctor consultations. But are online doctor consultations legal in South Africa? Let's delve into the realm of telehealth and its legality within the country.

In Short: Are Online Doctor Consultations Legal in South Africa?

Yes, it is perfectly legal to see a virtual doctor in South Africa. In fact, it’s supported and endorsed by official bodies. Learn how to see a doctor right now for less and see how to find a good doctor as well as steps to find your ideal affordable doctor.

Who Governs Online Doctor Consultations in South Africa?

While there is currently no specific legislation governing online doctor consultations in South Africa, the practice finds support under the broader concept of telehealth. The Health Professions Council of South Africa (HPCSA) plays a pivotal role in endorsing this approach to healthcare. 

The HPCSA has made strides by publishing "General Ethical Guidelines for Good Practice in Telehealth " (Booklet 10) -" These guidelines are complemented by recommendations from esteemed institutions like the University of Oxford, the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners, and the Royal College of Psychiatrists. 

Are there any Specific Rules for Online Doctor Consultations in South Africa?

Even without strict regulations, healthcare practitioners engaged in telehealth consultations are expected to adhere to the same high standards of professionalism as those conducting traditional, in-person consultations. The benchmark for their conduct is set by what a reasonable healthcare professional would do under similar circumstances. This ensures that patient safety and care remain paramount, whether the consultation is virtual or physical.

General guidelines include:

  • Virtual doctors can treat you even if you’ve never met face-to-face before.
  • You can meet with a doctor via “any suitable Information and Communication Technology (ICT) platforms”, so video call meetings are 100% preferable.
  • If the online doctor thinks you need to see a doctor in-person, they will tell you.
  • Virtual doctors must keep a record of your consultationconsult.

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