Telemedicine, the application of technology to healthcare, has the potential to revolutionize healthcare delivery by overcoming geographical barriers. It effectively addresses the issues of inadequacy and unequal distribution of healthcare resources. During the COVID-19 pandemic, there has been a significant rise in the use of telemedicine worldwide attributed to the surge in patients seeking health care services through information transmission, remote monitoring, and interactive communication. However, Taiwan continues to lag behind other nations in the implementation of telemedicine due to constraints imposed by Article 11 of the Physicians Act and the Rules of Medical Diagnosis and Treatment by Telecommunications. Generally, physicians are required to conduct inperson diagnostic examinations before initiating treatment, with exceptions allowed only in mountainous areas, outlying islands, remote regions, or special urgent circumstances, where telecommunication-based consultations are permitted. Moreover, the government has not yet to authorize the delivery of medication to patients’ homes through postal or courier services. As a result, patients are still required to visit medical institutions or pharmacies or rely on pharmacists to deliver medications to their homes to collect their prescriptions.
The core idea of this study is to thoroughly examine the legal framework in Taiwan to eliminate barriers that hinder the progress of telemedicine. The study compares the legal systems and policies of successful telemedicine-promoting countries, namely the United States, Japan, and Singapore, along with learning from Singapore’s experiences in promoting telepharmacy services. Drawing on the legal framework of telemedicine in these countries, the study reflects on issues in Taiwan and seeks for guidance. In line with the research objectives, this study proposes recommendations for legislators and regulatory authorities, including expanding the scope of telemedicine, reducing restrictions, and appropriately relaxing regulations related to pharmacist dispensing and medication delivery. It is anticipated that the insights gained from this study will serve as a reference foundation for future law amendments and legislation, making the formulation of telemedicine-related legal norms more in line with our country’s needs and in accordance with global developments and industry trends.