It's become common for people to seek mental and physical health services through telehealth platforms rather than, say, a sexual health clinic: think videoconferences or a portal to a digitized health record. But for many people, putting healthcare online muddies basic issues such as communication, liability and personal rights.

For example, it's not uncommon to see waivers and disclaimers for patient use of online platforms. Most people aren't fluent in "legalese" and probably don't go through these documents with a fine-tooth comb before signing them, but certain sections deserve a close reading. Health service providers include some kind of disclaimer to minimize, if not neutralize completely, liability for any medical errors that may occur as a result of using online platforms as a primary source of personal healthcare.

If a provider disavows responsibility in this way, is there a chance online portals can do more harm than good?

A question of accountability

Increased access to healthcare services is generally a good thing for patients across the country. However, if