Telemedicine and telehealth are digital healthcare fields that have grown over time and experienced significant use during COVID-19. Being able to connect with patients digitally has significant benefits for patients and providers, but it also comes with necessary regulations and precautions. There are many different platforms for hosting telehealth, and each healthcare encounter is unique.
As the popularity of telehealth has increased, state and federal laws and regulations have changed to accommodate this new form of healthcare. Meeting these laws and regulations is important for the health, care, and safety of patients. Regulatory compliance is also important to keep your healthcare facility functional, profitable, and protected from liability. Unfortunately, the newness of these regulations means compliance can be especially confusing and uncertain. You need a telemedicine and telehealth attorney who understands how to integrate these systems into your healthcare facility so that it helps your business and complies with regulations.
At Boesen & Snow, LLC, our attorneys have decades of experience in various areas of business and healthcare law. We have worked in pharmacies, other healthcare areas, business audits, and complex litigation. We understand the issues you are dealing with because we’ve dealt with them in our own careers. We are located in Arizona but serve clients nationwide and are familiar with the unique laws and requirements of your state. We want to help you understand telehealth regulation, evaluate your system for noncompliance and liability, and implement a new system that helps your healthcare facility become better.
Telehealth refers to the use of online and remote services for typical healthcare. This includes audio and video communication, as well as ways to monitor patients and transfer patient data. This is often more convenient for healthcare providers, their professional colleagues, and patients. Healthcare providers still have the same responsibilities and obligations in telehealth as they do outside of it. Laws that extend to telehealth include:
Using telehealth and telemedicine in your healthcare facility requires different protections and compliance to protect you from claims and other liabilities.
There are several benefits to virtual healthcare through telehealth, which include:
Telehealth can also aid in professional transfer of patient and health information.
Telehealth is the broader term for healthcare services done remotely through video calls and audio calls. Telemedicine refers specifically to clinical services, usually between doctors and patients. Telehealth includes clinical services, online staff training, staff and administrative video conferences and meetings, transferal of information, healthcare education, and other professional and clinical healthcare services.
Many healthcare providers use telehealth and telemedicine in the state they are licensed in to reach patients in rural or isolated areas and generally to expand their practice. However, it can get more complicated when providing telemedicine to other states. Each state has its own requirements for licensing to practice telehealth.
In some states, there is a specific and limited telehealth license you can obtain. This allows you to practice telehealth in other states, assuming you have a full license in your main state. However, other states require a full license in order to practice telemedicine.
Failing to follow licensure requirements can lead to an investigation by the State Board, fines, license suspension, and license revocation. It’s essential to understand how these regulations affect you and your practice in each state. Boesen & Snow aid clients nationwide, and we understand the state requirements around the country. We can help you ensure you meet the necessary laws.
Regulations governing telehealth also rely on the healthcare field the provider practices in. Fields such as mental health care, behavioral health, urgent care, and radiology require unique care. When determining if and when telehealth can be used, healthcare facilities must consider important issues, including:
When you work with a telemedicine attorney, they can help you determine what regulations govern your practice in and out of state and how to comply with those requirements.
Whether you have an established practice or are beginning a new business, telehealth impacts most aspects of the healthcare system. Because it is such a recent development, there are no universal practices to implement. An experienced professional can help you comply with the telehealth laws and regulations as you work hard to maintain a sustainable practice and help your patients.
Telehealth can provide a lot of benefits for providers and patients if well-integrated. Healthcare laws are complex and only get more complicated in telemedicine. These laws and regulations are meant to provide for the health, safety, and security of patients. Unfortunately, these laws can sometimes be outdated. It’s our goal to help you keep your practice functioning in the limitations and requirements of these laws. The sooner you implement policies and strategies to comply with regulation, the less liability you’re likely to suffer.
There are several healthcare obligations that have a unique impact on telemedicine. Other states may have similar or different requirements. The statues cover:
A healthcare provider must gain verbal or written informed consent from a patient before providing telehealth care. This consent can be electronic and must be from the patient or a person responsible for the patient’s healthcare decisions. Providers may need to take extra steps to ensure this consent is gained and clearly documented.
Telehealth has to address privacy and security concerns just like in-person and standard healthcare. Telehealth records must follow the same privacy requirements. Security is also essential in telemedicine because so much of medical information is electronic. Healthcare providers and facilities may need to take further steps to oversee and protect the security of this information.
Telemedicine does not remove the ability of healthcare providers to commit fraud or abuse of patients. Complaints against providers can still be made, and it’s essential to have policies properly adapted to fit telehealth formats. This includes risk management, limiting the liability of providers and the facility, and providing education that covers telemedicine-specific issues.
Telehealth also covers the electronic prescribing of medications. Some states do not have laws that cover this. Electronic prescribing systems can limit human prescription errors, but they also have their own potential weaknesses. It’s important to have staff able to review these systems and prevent medication errors or breaches of privacy.
Prescribing medications through telehealth appointments also varies from state to state.
A telemedicine attorney can review your telehealth system for potential liabilities and help you create policies and training that addresses the unique needs of telemedicine.
The attorneys at Boesen & Snow can become your practice’s lifelong business partners. We have experience in healthcare law and in handling business matters. We understand your situation because we’ve worked in pharmacies and other areas of the healthcare system. Our attorneys can review your system, help you set up protections for your patients and your own liability, and adapt to the telehealth laws as they change. If your healthcare practice is considering adding telehealth to your facility or is worried that your current system is inadequately protected, Boesen & Snow can help you. Contact our team today.
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