Body calls for audit on online health services


KUCHING: The Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) has called upon the Malaysian Medical Council (MMC) and the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA) to conduct an audit on online healthcare services to safeguard patients.

MMA president Prof Datuk Dr Subramaniam Muniandysaid this was important to ensure that healthcare services could be properly regulated following the increase in online activities including the sourcing of healthcare services and medication online due to the pandemic.

“While online health consultations are an important adjunct during the pandemic, it must be accompanied with the highest & strictest standards of data privacy, medico legal and ethical considerations.

“Doctors who offer online services must take cognizant of the limits of online consultations and advise patients needing face to face consultations when cases warrant proper physical examinations or when communication barriers exist online,” he said in a statement today.

Subramaniam further noted that most comprehensive approach must be taken with every consultation so that an accurate diagnosis can be made by doctors with the appropriate management instituted in the best interest of the patient.

“Convenience must never compromise the safety and health outcomes of patients,” he added.

He also reminded that the sale of medicine is governed by the Poison Act 1952 and its regulations. Any deviation from the rules and regulations of the Act may threaten patient’s safety and is subject to the legal ambit of the Act.

He said the supply of medications for common chronic non communicable diseases (NCD) such as hypertension and diabetes must be accompanied with proper counselling, appropriate tests or examinations to ensure optimal patient’s health.

“Reviews by medical professionals at regular intervals of three to six months are important to note the efficacy of the treatment. Medications should not be repeated without regular follow ups.

“Online consultation and prescriptions must never be used as ‘a tool of convenience’ for repeated medication supply without the appropriate medical counselling and thorough assessment of patient condition,” he stressed.

MMC has strict ethical codes that every registered doctor in this country must comply with, he pointed out. The purpose of these codes is for all doctors to maintain the highest standard of professionalism and integrity and to protect patients’ welfare.

“MMC as the guardian of the patients and profession should take these issues seriously by guiding the doctors and safeguarding patients or it will appear to be a toothless tiger.

“Commercialisation tactics in healthcare and online services must never compromise the strict ethical considerations required.

“While we agree that online health services are integral to provision of healthcare and its potential is yet to be fully realised by many, we insist that first and foremost, it must do no harm to patients and the public,” he continued.

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