Ethical Concerns

Incorporation of telehealth into health care services brings up many ethical questions. Education and training in telehealth addresses these ethical issues by ensuring that medical professionals are competent in telehealth. Of the utmost importance for practicing telehealth is the patients’ ability to trust that their providers have their best interests at the forefront of their minds when making decisions about their care. One main ethical concern for telehealth is the privacy and protection of patient information. This includes making sure that health information is only accessible by professionals from the patients’ care team. Providers must receive proper education surrounding the laws and policies for protecting patient information through telehealth services (Ethical Practices in Telemedicine, 2021). Concern for maintaining confidentiality must be kept while obtaining, storing, and transferring patient information through telehealth. Providers must possess the skills and knowledge in technology and data collection in order to keep their patients’ information privileged and prevent hacking or unauthorized access (Langarizadeh, Moghbeli, & Aliabadi, 2017).

Before any exchange of medical services, including through telehealth, patient informed consent must be given. It is the physicians’ job to inform their patient of information regarding examination and treatments as well as information about the telehealth technology being used, any limitations to telehealth, and privacy of data collected through telehealth. If a video or image component is included in the telehealth service, additional consent must be given for this as well (Ethical and Professional Considerations with Telehealth, n.d.). 

When physicians cannot examine patients in a face-to-face manner through telehealth this may create ethical concerns for diagnoses and recommending treatments. Providers must be able to collect enough information about their patients’ health through other means when conducting examinations via telehealth. This includes having valuable clinical knowledge and experience to be able to assess their patients’ needs from data collection, questioning and visual and nonvisual ques through a screen or telehealth application  (Ethical Practices in Telemedicine, 2021).


Telehealth & Ethics Video


In this video, Meyleen Velasquez, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, outlines several provider competencies that are needed for ethical telehealth service. Some of these include the knowledge to decifer if telehealth is the best option for the patient, knowledge of HIPAA compliance, licensure laws, accesibility, technology education, professional boundaries, etc. Providers should be comfortable and competent in all these criteria in order to ensure that the best quality of care is given to patients via telehealth.