As we witness the evolution of the regulatory landscape across the MENA region, it was timely for us to investigate and lift the lid, on what is keeping the region’s legal decision-makers awake at night.
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The Department of Health Abu Dhabi (‘DOH’) issued its initial telemedicine regulatory framework in 2014; since then, the industry has awaited updates to the same and a more comprehensive acceptance of new telehealth providers in Abu Dhabi. In September 2020, the DOH issued an updated DOH Standard on Tele-Medicines (‘DOH Telemedicine Standard’), bringing Abu Dhabi’s telemedicine standards in line with recent federal legislation and current care delivery models.
The standard sets out the minimum requirements for the provision of tele-medicine services by DOH licensed providers, covering:
It remains that a DOH licence is required by the healthcare facility for the provision of tele-medicine services, either to provide tele-medicine services as a supplemental services or as the primary service. Stand-alone tele-medicine providers, however, are not permitted to engage in tele-medicine interventions (the use of information and communication technology for any remote medical intervention, such as surgeries, treatments and diagnosis remotely conducted using robotic systems and wired and/or wireless communication networks) nor tele-diagnostic services (the use of information and communication technology between providers (i.e. facilities) in geographically separate locations to transmit patients’ physical examination records, including x-rays and records of images and videos, and medical reports for the purpose of diagnosis of patients’ conditions).
The individual healthcare professional is not required to obtain a specific tele-medicine licence; merely, the provider must be credentialed/privileged by a healthcare facility with a tele-medicine licence to provide tele-medicine services. This leaves the onus on the healthcare facility to ensure that its healthcare professionals engaging in tele-medicine services have the appropriate skills, training, knowledge, and technological infrastructure to deliver the services.
Of further note is that DOH Circular No.10 of 2020, issued in March 2020, temporarily permitted tele-medicine services and medicines delivery to homes in Abu Dhabi without a formal telehealth licence. This was a temporary measure put in place in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. The circular is in effect until 23 October 2020, unless further extended by the DOH. Following the conclusion of the Circular’s validity, a permanent licence will be required, as per the DOH Telemedicine Standard.
In our November Healthcare edition of Law Update, we will provide further details concerning this standard. To subscribe and ensure that you receive our alerts and healthcare articles in relation to the healthcare sector in our nine countries – Saudi Arabia, UAE, Egypt, Oman, Kuwait, Qatar, Iraq, Jordan, and Bahrain – please click here.
Al Tamimi & Company’s Healthcare sector regularly advises healthcare entities on legal and regulatory developments impacting the industry. For further information, please contact email@example.com.