The Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) adopted without changes a revised policy on appropriate use of telemedicine--ignoring recommendations from the American Telemedicine Association.
FSMB's "Model Policy for the Appropriate Use of Telemedicine Technologies in the Practice of Medicine," is not binding on state boards, but "provides much-needed guidance and a basic roadmap that state boards can use to ensure that patients are protected from harm in a fast-changing health-care delivery environment," FSMB said in an announcement.
The policy states that the same standards of care that have historically protected patients during in-person visits must apply to medical care delivered electronically. It calls for doctors to establish a credible "patient-physician relationship," ensuring that patients are properly evaluated and treated, and that providers adhere to well-established principles guiding privacy and security of personal health information, informed consent, safe prescribing and other key areas of medical practice.
American Well CEO Roy Schoenberg, M.D., applauded the move in a statement. And MDLive CEO Randy Parker called standardizing telemedicine regulations across states a positive move in an article at Medscape Medical News.
While the policy is aimed at making a telemedicine visit equivalent to that of an in-person consult, the ATA argues that instead it sets the bar higher for telemedicine.
The ATA had requested changes to the policy, including the description of telemedicine as a videoconferencing or store-forward technology--it wanted to include telephone and email consults as well. And it objected to the requirement that doctors be licensed in the same state where the patient is located. Efforts to allow doctors who treat Medicare patients and veterans to practice across state lines have advanced in Congress.
Humayun J. Chaudhry, M.D. president and CEO of FSMB, told Medscape Medical News that the organization is working on an "interstate medical licensure compact" that would allow physicians to be licensed and practice in all participating states based on a single licensing application.
The Florida Medical Association reports its members oppose a state bill that would allow out-of-state providers to practice without a Florida license.
Meanwhile, Teladoc has pulled out of Idaho after the state medical board there sanctioned a doctor licensed in the state who prescribed an antibiotic over the phone while working for a telemedicine company.