In a draft compromise text obtained by Politico, the European Council has dropped a key provision seeking to harmonise telemedicine from the draft European Health Data Space (EHDS).
The (now-removed) Article 8 was aimed at encouraging the cross-border provision of telemedicine services across the EU. However, the reality is that there are vast national differences between Member States on telemedicine-related laws. It is going to require a far more concerted legislative effort to harmonise this area of law across the EU.
The original Article 8 of the EHDS set out that: “If a Member State accepts the provision of telemedicine services, it shall, under the same conditions, accept the provision of similar services by healthcare providers located in other Member States”. But the practical impact of this Article was always going to be questionable, and the implications and scope are unclear. Telemedicine is governed by a huge array of legislation (at both the EU and Member State level), from local laws on the registration and licensing of healthcare professionals, to reimbursement and insurance, to local requirements for prescriptions, local laws on medical secrecy and liability, and even differing implementations of the GDPR across the EU.
When would a telemedicine provider in one Member State be able to provide cross-border telemedicine “under the same conditions” as another Member State, when the legislative landscape for telemedicine is so jurisdiction-specific? For now, telemedicine providers will have to continue navigating the patchwork of local and EU laws that apply to telemedicine services.