Selfies, self-taken photographs using mobile phones or tablet computers, have become a way of life. People are now sending selfies to health professionals for medical advice or dermatology triage or postoperative wound assessment. These selfies may be unsolicited and sent to clinicians with whom the patient may or may not have a prior doctor-patient relationship or on the instruction of the attending doctor or even to social media groups. They may be sent by email, or by mobile phone and instant messaging applications, or sent to Websites, or telemedicine specific application sites. These photographs and accompanying information are legal documents, should form part of the patient's record, and should be securely transmitted and stored to maintain patient confidentiality and privacy. This paper reviews the legal, ethical and regulatory issues associated with the different forms of selfie telemedicine.
Method: A scoping literature review was undertaken using PubMed, Scopus, Science Direct, Ebsco Host and Google Scholar which were searched for Selfie and any of medicine, telemedicine, telehealth, eHealth, or mHealth. Inclusion criteria were that the paper was in English and described the use of a selfie in relation to healthcare. These were then reviewed for reference to legal, ethical issues and regulatory issues.
Results: 68 papers met the inclusion criteria. Legal and ethical issues identified were consent, confidentiality, privacy, the doctor-patient relationship, data security, responsibility, record keeping, licensure, continuity of care, quality of care, image quality, concordance, phone stewardship and patient satisfaction.
Conclusion: The literature provides little guidance on how legal and ethical issues and shortcomings of selfie telemedicine should be addressed especially the responsibilities of the patient and physician for unsolicited requests. Nor does it provide advice on how records are to be kept, or how images and information stored and sent to and from mobile phones or computers are to be managed. The new issues that arise need to be addressed.