On September 10, the Public Health Committee of the House of Representatives passed the telemedicine bill that seeks to provide a legal framework for this service as offered by Uruguayan health institutions. The initiative, which received the support of both the ruling party and the opposition, now goes to the plenary for final approval in the House of Representatives.
Although there are several different telehealth programs under way in Uruguay, the idea of the bill introduced by Martín Lema (Partido Nacional – opposition) is to establish general guidelines to develop and improve this service. As a regulatory framework, it defines the principles governing telemedicine, such as equity, efficiency and decentralization, and its scope extends to all those services “recognized as such by the Ministry of Public Health”.
In addition, it establishes that in order to provide telehealth services, health systems must have the patient’s express consent for each medical act to be performed, including the transmission and exchange of personal information from their medical records. Such consent may be revoked by the patient at any time.
Following the bill’s unanimous approval in committee, it is now ready to be debated on the floor of the chamber. Although it has the backing of the deputies to advance its procedure, it is important to note that since this is an election year, Congress will hold ordinary sessions until September 15, returning to its legislative work on February 15. Extraordinary sessions will however be convened during this period, to continue discussing pending bills, based on the priorities agreed and defined by legislators.