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“I think it [telemedicine] will play a part in the talks. I think technology will play a huge part in the new GP contract,” NAGP CEO Mr Chris Goodey told the Medical Independent (MI).
Mr Goodey also confirmed to MI that a new telemedicine app created by GP-Online, of which the NAGP is a part-owner, will be available to Association members in the next two-to-four weeks.
The Department of Health would not confirm whether telemedicine would be on the talks’ agenda. However, a spokesperson added that any “new modern GP services contract” must have regard for new technology.
Last month, this newspaper exclusively reported that a significant increase in the use of telemedicine is a major facet of the HSE’s new strategy for outpatient services.
However, HSE Chief Information Officer and CEO of eHealth Ireland Mr Richard Corbridge told MI that the GP contract might not be the best place in which to detail the role of telemedicine in general practice.
“Technology is moving at such a pace in this field that to tie it too closely to a contract could in fact remove the ability to innovate,” said Mr Corbridge.
The IMO did not comment on whether it believed telemedicine would form part of the talks.
“It is critical that the development of technology in the area of telemedicine is safe, effective and does not undermine the doctor-patient relationship and the personalised continuity of care that is unique to general practice,” an IMO spokesperson said.
Former IMO President and Dublin GP Dr Ray Walley said telemedicine was “exciting” and could be an important addition for general practice.
However, he expressed strong concerns over what he sees as the domination of the market by private companies and the possibility that the public sector and medical card patients may be left behind by technological advances.