More than 70 percent of U.S. physicians have a physical or virtual consultation for pain, according to a new report from Axios.
The results come after the Obama administration released new guidelines for doctors seeking virtual consultation.
The new guidelines include a rule that will require physicians to get a prescription from a physician if they need to access a computer for an exam, and it allows doctors to opt out of seeing virtual patients if they don’t want to use the computer.
The rule is expected to take effect on July 1.
The guidelines also expand on the existing guidelines for physical examinations, which include requiring patients to take a physical exam at a doctor’s office, or by a doctor at their home or workplace.
But the new guidelines also say patients should be given the opportunity to request a virtual exam.
Doctors who want to view virtual patients must get a recommendation from a doctor who has agreed to see them, and the physician must provide a prescription.
Doctors can opt out if they choose to, but that option is reserved for those who choose not to use a virtual computer, or they have other concerns, such as a family member or a colleague who has physical or emotional problems.
“Physicians have an obligation to patients and patients have an ethical obligation to physicians,” said Dr. James E. Whelan, chairman of the Department of Surgery at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center.
“Physicians are a key resource in a doctor-patient relationship, and when a physician cannot provide the best care, the physician is failing to meet the patient’s needs.”
The American Medical Association has called for the use of virtual patients to improve patient outcomes.
The AMA, the nation’s largest association of doctors, said in 2016 that it was committed to eliminating virtual exams, saying that patients should only be given an opportunity to see a virtual patient.
The AMA said it’s a matter of “ethical imperative” to ensure that patients are getting the best possible care, but noted that physicians have an “ethical obligation” to patients.
“When a physician fails to meet patients’ health care needs, their patients and the health care system suffers,” AMA President Dr. Daniel A. Siegel said in a statement at the time.