In an exciting development, the UAE has recently issued the first piece of federal legislation that addresses the provision of health services remotely (Telehealth Services). This article takes a closer look at the specific conditions and regulations being introduced and how they apply to various Telehealth services.
On 2 July 2019, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) issued Cabinet resolution No. 40 of 2019 concerning the Executive Regulation1 on Medical Liability, which enclosed an addendum related to the regulations and conditions for providing Telehealth Services in the UAE (Federal Telehealth Regulations). Prior to the Federal Telehealth Regulations, the Chairman of the Board of Directors and Director General of the Dubai Health Authority had issued an administrative resolution2 in 2017, approving the Regulations of Telehealth Care Services (Dubai Telehealth Regulations). The scope of the Dubai Telehealth Regulations is limited to the Emirate of Dubai.
How to Comply
The Federal Telehealth Regulations sets out the general conditions and regulations (General Controls) applicable to the various types of Telehealth Services provided remotely in the UAE, and the specific conditions and regulations (Specific Controls) applicable to certain (but not necessarily all) Telehealth Services.
The General Controls apply to all establishments in which Telehealth Services are provided (Telehealth Establishment) and any Telehealth Services' recipient (Recipient). In addition to obtaining the relevant licenses from the competent authorities, each Telehealth Establishment must adhere to specific technical, IT, insurance and staff training requirements and apply the relevant working guidelines described in the Federal Telehealth Regulations.
In order to comply with the General Controls, a Recipient must also agree to:
- receiving Telehealth Services;
- having audio, video and other type of recordings made as part of the Telehealth Service; and
- providing full and accurate information about her condition and identity, in order to maintain the integrity of the Telehealth Service.
In addition to the General Controls, the Federal Telehealth Regulations sets out Specific Controls applicable to certain Telehealth Services. The Specific Controls include technical specifications, data and privacy protection considerations and other documentation requirements specifically applicable to certain Telehealth Services.
Types of Telehealth Services
The various forms of Telehealth Services are set out and defined in the Federal Telehealth Regulations. These are Telehealth Consultation, Telehealth Treatment, Telehealth Diagnosis, Telehealth Monitoring and Telehealth Intervention. The definition of each of these services is provided in the Federal Telehealth Regulations as follows:
- Telehealth Consultation is defined as a "consultation by using information and communication technologies to offer advice on the best ways of dealing with the health condition, which is conducted between two physicians or between a physician and a patient if the physician and the patient are not in the same place".
- Telehealth Treatment is defined as "a prescription of treatment by the specialized physician if the physician and the patient are not in the same place by usage of communication and information technologies following telehealth diagnosis without clinical examination to the patient or upon telehealth prescription of treatment based on diagnosis conducted through the traditional clinical way".
- Telehealth Diagnosis is defined as "determining the illness and the patient’s health condition via the usage of communication and information technologies by the health care service provider".
- Telehealth Monitoring is defined as "obtaining the vital signs and observing the patient’s condition via the use of communication and information technologies by the health care service provider".
- Telehealth Intervention is defined as "any telehealth intervention via the use of communication and information technologies".