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Health ministry gives telemedicine green light for those who wish to quit smoking

Kyodo

The health ministry has approved allowing doctors to treat via smartphones or personal computers patients who wish to quit smoking, ministry officials have said.

The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry informed all 47 prefectures of the change, which took effect Friday.

As long as a patient undergoes regular medical checkups, a patient seeking treatment to stop smoking will be exempt from the requirement under the Medical Practitioners Act for initial examinations to be carried out face-to-face before treatment can begin.

Also, patients will not have to go and see a doctor to get a new prescription for drugs to stop smoking.

The ministry has approved doctors and smoking cessation patients communicating via emails and social network services as well as videophones, smartphones and personal computers, the officials said.

As national health insurance currently does not cover telemedicine consultations and treatment, the ministry will ask the appropriate advisory panel to study the matter, the officials added.