Belarus in need of clear telemedicine regulations

Currently there is no detailed regulation of telemedicine in Belarus. We are expecting an updated Law on Healthcare, which would address the situation.

The key regulatory document providing main areas of the e-health system development is the “Concept of e-health development until 2022”, approved by Order of the Ministry of Healthcare. This sets key goals, objectives and principles of e-health development as well as expected results. So the concept of telemedicine, as part of e-health, is developing in Belarus. Related amendments to the Law on Healthcare covering regulation of telemedicine were accepted by the Parliament at the first reading on 9 April 2020. It is still unclear when the amendments will be adopted.

The draft amendments define telemedicine as information technology ensuring remote interaction between healthcare specialists and patients. Telemedicine may be applied to conduct medical consultations, give second opinions on diagnosis and treatment, monitor the patient after face-to-face examination, and so on. Generally the concept is that telemedicine is possible after face-to-face examination and treatment prescription.

The draft amendments stipulate that by resorting to telemedicine healthcare specialists will use a digital signature and that the technology used should ensure that medical secrecy is maintained.

Overall, we see that there are positive dynamics with regard to e-health in Belarus. An electronic prescriptions system is gradually developing, while due to COVID-19 Belarus allowed e-pharmacies – ordering pharmaceuticals online and pharmaceuticals delivery. It is somewhat unclear whether e-pharmacies will outlast the COVID-19 crisis.