The Latest News on Telemedicine
Thursday, December 27, 2012
By George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law
For years providing health care to patients has been at a location that is convenient to the health provider. With emerging trends in telemedicine and upcoming healthcare reforms, recently enacted, patients may begin to enjoy the convenience of medical evaluation and follow-up by video, telephone and computer. The biggest bar to this to date has been the refusal of Medicare, Medicaid and insurers to pay for this, along with restrictive state board of medicine regulations prohibiting it. For example, a big thorn in the side of physicians treating pain management patients has been regulatory prohibitions by the Florida Board of Medicine.
According to a Star Tribune article, 30 million Americans are expected to gain access to insurance through the Health Care Reform Act in 2014. Telemedicine is one effective and low-cost solution to treat easy-to-diagnose medical conditions. It is also expected to assist in relieving the looming shortage of physicians.
Telemedicine uses technologies, such as the internet, streaming media, telephones and video conferences to meet the needs of patients. When deciding whether to establish a telemedicine program it is important to look at the state licensure requirements, as requirements are different in each state.
Click here for a breakdown of telemedicine legislation by state.
According to rule 64B15-14.008, Florida Administrative Code, prescribing medication based solely on an electronic medical questionnaire constitutes unprofessional conduct and it groups for disciplinary action. At least in Florida, the medical authorities have required that physicians must see the patient in person in a face-to-face encounter before prescribing medication. Physicians may not provide treatment recommendations unless a document patient evaluation has occurred, sufficient dialogue between the physician and patient regarding treatment options and the risks and benefits of treatment have occurred, and medical records are properly maintained.
Click here to learn more on the standards for telemedicine practices in Florida.
Federal laws and regulations may bring a change in the state requirements.
A Look Into the Future of Diagnosing Minor Ailments.
Virtuwell is an online medical clinic offered in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Patients log onto the Virtuwell website and answer a number of questions. Using the patient’s answers, a nurse practitioner will diagnose the ailment, give treatment advice and, if necessary, send a prescription to a pharmacy. This service costs around $40 per diagnosis. The Virtuwell website launched in 2010. In just two years, more than 40,000 patients have logged on to receive medical advice. This form of telemedicine may be the future of health care.
To read more on Virtuwell from the Star Tribune, click here.
It is important to note that Minnesota allows physicians to offer this service if they are registered to practice telemedicine or are registered to practice across state lines.
Contact Health Law Attorneys Experienced in Representing Health Care Professionals and Providers.
At the Health Law Firm we provide legal services for all health care providers and professionals. This includes physicians, nurses, dentists, psychologists, psychiatrists, mental health counselors, Durable Medical Equipment suppliers, medical students and interns, hospitals, ambulatory surgical centers, pain management clinics, nursing homes, and any other health care provider. We represent facilities, individuals, groups and institutions in contracts, sales, mergers and acquisitions.
The services we provide include reviewing and negotiating contracts, business transactions, professional license defense, representation in investigations, credential defense, representation in peer review and clinical privileges hearings, Medicare and Medicaid audits, commercial litigation, and administrative hearings. To contact The Health Law Firm, please call (407) 331-6620 or (850) 439-1001 and visit our website at www.TheHealthLawFirm.com.
What do you think of telemedicine? Do you think it is the future of doctor’s office visits? In your opinion what are the benefits and what are the difficulties of telemedicine? Please leave any thoughtful comments below.
Crosby, Jackie. “The New House Call is Online.” Star Tribune. (November 24, 2012). From: http://www.startribune.com/business/180632701.html
Gardner, Elizabeth. “Is Your Doctor Out of the Office? Try an E-Visit.” U.S. News. (September 4, 2012). From: http://health.usnews.com/health-news/articles/2012/09/04/is-your-doctor-out-of-the-office-try-an-e-visit
About the Author: George F. Indest III, J.D., M.P.A., LL.M., is Board Certified by The Florida Bar in Health Law. He is the President and Managing Partner of The Health Law Firm, which has a national practice. Its main office is in the Orlando, Florida, area. www.TheHealthLawFirm.com The Health Law Firm, 1101 Douglas Ave., Altamonte Springs, FL 32714, Phone: (407) 331-6620.
Tag Words: Telemedicine, online house call, physician shortage, doctor shortage, e-visit, Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS), Florida standards for telemedicine, electronic medical questionnaire, health care reform, defense attorney, defense lawyer, health care attorney, health care lawyer, health law, administrative law
"The Health Law Firm" is a registered fictitious business name of George F. Indest III, P.A. - The Health Law Firm, a Florida professional service corporation, since 1999. Copyright © 1996-2012 The Health Law Firm. All rights reserved.
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