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Scope of practice

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Telehealth is simply an alternative way to deliver healthcare, so a health professional’s scope of practice is usually the same as it would be when treating a patient in person. However, as many professionals are only adopting telehealth for the first time now, it is important to check if your registration board or professional body has placed limitations on your scope of practice when utilizing telehealth.  

Telehealth is not limited by the location of the health professional or the patient, so clinicians can, in theory, provide services to individuals in other parts of their country or even overseas. It is, therefore, important to note that the scope of practice for providers can vary within countries and between countries, so you will need to check that you are correctly licensed to treat a patient in a different region before undertaking a telehealth consultation. These licensing issues have, to date, played a part in slowing down the adoption of telehealth, particularly in the United States.  

As with any clinical interaction, telehealth consultations require providers to use clinical reasoning to determine if this particular mode of healthcare delivery is appropriate based on the client’s circumstances and the health professional’s scope of practice. ii 

Practitioners must consider: 

  • Goals for the consultation 
  • Client safety—Can the health issue be addressed via telehealth and how urgent is the presenting condition? 
  • Appropriateness of available technology and the ability of the client to interact with the technology 
  • Benefits versus the risks of conducting the session via telehealth 
  • Client and service user preferences