Hungary issues new temporary rules for the practice of telemedicine

Hungary

As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, the issue of telemedicine has become a priority in many countries, including Hungary, which has expanded the permissible scope of the doctor-patient relationship to allow physicians to conduct remote consultations with patients through a decree passed in April and a new law which has just gone into force. 

Application of telemedicine

The government first broadened the rules governing remote physician-patient consultations for the state of emergency on 30 April 2020 when it issued Government Decree no. 157/2020 (IV. 29.), commonly known as the Telemedicine Decree. Then, due to the end of the state of emergency as of 18 June 2020, a new law extends to right to conduct telemedicine consultations for another 90 days. 

Scope of telemedicine

Based on the new rules, the physical presence of patients is not required for physicians to provide healthcare services. The Telemedicine Decree and the new law clarify the exact scope of services, which can be performed in the absence of patients through the use of remote monitoring devices and other information-communication technologies. These services could include providing diagnoses, proposals for therapies as well as prescribing medicines, etc.

Documentation of telemedicine

The Telemedicine Decree and the new law lay down certain obligations for healthcare providers. For example, they must document any telemedicine services or consultations in line with the applicable laws for maintaining healthcare documentation. Healthcare providers must comply with their (performance and other) reporting obligations: specifically, general practitioners must indicate “telemedicine care” as the place of care; outpatient healthcare providers must indicate “telemedicine care” as the type of ambulance care.

Financing of telemedicine

Based on the authorization of Government Decree no. 43/1999. (III. 3.), which gives detailed rules for the financing of healthcare services from the National Health Insurance Fund (NEAK), NEAK’s Director General has ordered that, also in the case of telemedicine, a special methodology be used for calculating the level of financing until the end of the state of emergency.

Beginning May 2020, NEAK has determined the amount of financing mainly by average financing, based on which a financing fee corresponding to the average of the three-month financing fee for the pre-emergency period is paid to healthcare providers for the majority of their publicly financed services, including services provided via telemedicine (with certain exceptions). The settlement of average financing between NEAK and healthcare providers will take place posteriorly, allowing for costs incurred for the provision of the telemedicine services also to be satisfied.

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