Healthcare Technology Featured Article

February 05, 2014

Telemedicine, Video Doctor Visits Deemed Non-Compliant with HIPAA

As more people buzz about the advances afforded by the upcoming “Internet of Things” lifestyle, it could be possible that some ramifications are being glossed over as the cart is placed before the horse. In particular, the concept of “telemedicine,” where patients and doctors can meet over a video client and have an examination done and a prescription placed without needing to leave the home or office, has hit a roadblock.

The incident that sparked the trouble arose from a certain Thomas Trow MD, who conducted online video appointments with his patients. He used Skype to meet with his patients, and would prescribe controlled substances to patients that he felt needed them. Unfortunately, one of his patients ultimately died due to an overdose of a drug that Dr. Trow had prescribed, without ever having seen the patient in person. In response the Oklahoma medical board published a ruling that all telemedicine technology must be HIPAA compliant, which sends several video-based medical technologies into a tailspin.

If doctors are not careful when practicing telemedicine, incidents like the one above could become a common occurrence. In order to prevent a repeat of the same mistakes, telemedicine technology will have to meet extremely strict protocols in order to confirm the correct usage of controlled substances. It will also likely require the integration of other devices and products, like GemaTouch Sensors that track how often patients are taking their pills.

Image via Shutterstock

Overall, there will need to be a greater focus on delivering quality medicine and making sure that the job is done right, instead of becoming totally reliant on smart technology. This might mean that patient monitoring systems could cause more harm than good, if doctors and nursing staff rely on their feedback entirely instead of making regular check-ups on the patients.

Ideally, telemedicine and smart technology would make it so that medical technicians can rely on receiving updates on a patient's condition, but nothing beats simply walking into the room to see if there's a problem. When a smartphone app glitches out, the worst case scenario is usually just a missed phone call, but when it comes to medical technology, lives depend on everything running smoothly.

Edited by Alisen Downey

FREE eNewsletter

Click here to receive your targeted Healthcare Technology Community eNewsletter.
[Subscribe Now]