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The telemedical imperative.


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Technology presents a means of improving health outcomes for vast numbers of individuals. It has historically been deployed to streamline healthcare delivery and reach those who would previously have faced obstacles to accessing services. It has also enabled improved health education and management. Telemedicine can be employed in everything from primary care consultations to the monitoring of chronic diseases. Despite recommendation by the World Health Organization, countries have been slow to embrace such technology in the health sector. Nonetheless, it is expected to become more prevalent with increased digitization. Further, amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a rush to implement forms of telemedicine where possible to prevent patients breaking social distancing rules. In this paper, I present and defend what I term the 'telemedical imperative'. The telemedical imperative represents a duty for healthcare systems to implement remote access to services where possible, thereby furthering the mission of equity in access to healthcare. It is intended as an addition to in-person services rather than a replacement. After highlighting the benefits of telemedicine, I provide four criteria that must be met for the telemedical imperative to arise. The first three-safety, effectiveness, and acceptability-are consistent and essential. The fourth adapts to the service in question and requires that there be no other obstacles specific to that service that cannot reasonably be overcome. Finally, I address several potential objections to the telemedical imperative based on more general concerns around the implementation of telemedicine.

Acceptance Date Dec 11, 2020
Publication Date Feb 15, 2021
Journal Bioethics
Print ISSN 0269-9702
Publisher Wiley
Pages 298 - 306
Keywords autonomy health inequity justice remote healthcare telemedicine
Publisher URL,addition%20to%20in%E2%80%90person%20services%20rather%20than%20a%20replacement.


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