Online medical consultations in Egypt

user Youssry Saleh & Partners calender 26 Dec 2023 views 408 Views

Telemedicine, the practice of healthcare delivery using telecommunications technology, has revolutionized the way medical services are provided, offering convenience and accessibility to patients worldwide. However, the legal implications of cross-border telemedicine remain complex, particularly in Egypt where telemedicine is still in its nascent stages.

Jurisdictional Considerations for Telemedicine in Egypt

The primary concern for Egyptian doctors engaging in telemedicine is the issue of jurisdiction. When a doctor consults with a patient located in a different country, they may inadvertently transfer into the legal domain of another jurisdiction. This raises questions about the doctor’s license, malpractice liability, and compliance with local healthcare regulations.

To address these concerns, Egyptian doctors should carefully consider the following factors before engaging in cross-border telemedicine

  • Licensure Requirements: Ensure that they are appropriately licensed to practice medicine in the patient’s jurisdiction.
  • Malpractice Liability: Understand the potential liability for malpractice claims arising from telemedicine consultations.
  • Data Privacy and Security: Comply with data privacy and security regulations applicable in both Egypt and the patient’s jurisdiction.
  • Local Healthcare Regulations: There may be local healthcare regulations that apply to telemedicine. For example, some jurisdictions may require telemedicine providers to have a physical presence in the jurisdiction or to use specific technology platforms. Telemedicine platforms must be aware of these regulations and ensure that they are compliant, and must adhere to any specific telemedicine regulations or guidelines in the patient’s jurisdiction.

Telemedicine platforms Role and Responsibilities

Serve as an intermediary between patients and doctors, providing a platform for connecting them for virtual consultations. As such, responsibilities include:

  • Screening and Verifying Doctors: Ensuring that doctors on the platform are appropriately licensed and qualified.
  • Data Security and Privacy: Protecting patient data and complying with applicable data privacy regulations.
  • Disclaimers and Terms of Service: Clearly outline the limitations of the platform’s services and the user’s responsibilities.

It is worth noting that, before driving a patient to adhere to the terms and conditions prior to booking or conducting any transaction on the concerned doctors’ website, the latter must provide a trusted, secured website before including any service with their electronic clinics, including but limited to, and secure electronic payment for the service requester.

The web creator shall in accordance with Law No. 180 of 2018 regulating the press and the media and the Supreme Council for Media obtain the required license to establish the said website, whereas Article 6 of the said Law stipulates: “It is not permissible to establish or manage websites in the Arab Republic of Egypt, or managing offices or branches of websites operating outside the Republic, may not be done except after obtaining a license to do so from the Supreme Council in accordance with the controls and conditions it sets in this regard. Without prejudice to the prescribed criminal penalties, the Supreme Council may, in the event of violating the provisions of the previous paragraph, take the necessary measures, including canceling the license, stopping the activity of the site, or blocking it, in the event that a valid license is not obtained. The concerned parties may appeal the decision issued in this regard before the Administrative Court.”

Escaping Liability for Telemedicine Platforms

To minimize liability risks, these platforms can implement the following measures:

  • Thorough Due Diligence on Doctors: Conduct rigorous background checks and verify the license credentials of all doctors on the platform.
  • Clear Disclaimers and User Agreements: Clearly outline the scope of services, limitations of liability, and user responsibilities in the platform’s terms of service.
  • Robust Data Security Measures: Implement robust data security measures to protect patient information and comply with applicable data privacy regulations.
  • Transparency and Communication: Maintain transparency with users regarding data handling practices and promptly address any concerns or complaints.

In conclusion, telemedicine offers immense potential to improve healthcare access and outcomes. However, navigating the legal complexities of cross-border telemedicine requires careful consideration of jurisdictional boundaries and liability implications. Especially, when an Egyptian doctor consults with a patient located in another country, they may be practicing medicine without a license in the patient’s jurisdiction. This could result in disciplinary action or even criminal charges. In addition, the doctor may not be subject to the same malpractice laws as doctors in the patient’s jurisdiction. This means that the doctor may not be adequately protected from lawsuits if something goes wrong during the telemedicine consultation. By following the outlined guidelines, Egyptian doctors and telemedicine platforms can effectively manage risks and contribute to the responsible and ethical expansion of telemedicine services.