State med board sanctions telemedicine doc

Idaho's medical licensing board has cracked down on a doctor licensed in the state who prescribed a common antibiotic over the phone while working for the telemedicine company Consult-a-Doctor.

Ann DeJong, who is licensed to practice in nine states, is undergoing reviews of her licensure in the other states after the Idaho Board of Medicine sanction. It chided her for prescribing medication without an in-person examination of the patient first. It addition, the American Board of Family Practice has given her until October to clear up the issue or lose her board certification, reports The Spokesman-Review.

The Idaho legislature, however, is sympathetic. It passed a bill earlier this year calling for stakeholders to get together and set state standards for the practice of telemedicine, according to the article.

State Rep. John Rusche, a physician and co-sponsor of the bill, said the policy needs to be re-evaluated because there are other times when physicians call in a prescription without examining the patient in person, such as when they're covering for another doctor.

In the meantime, Teladoc, which bought out Consult-a-Doctor last September, has pulled out of Idaho, citing regulatory issues.

It's not the only state wrestling with telemedicine issues. Florida doctors are gearing up for a fight against a bill in the state House that would allow out-of-state doctors to practice telemedicine in the state without being licensed in Florida.

It's a companion to another bill that would set telemedicine standards and reimbursement requirements in the state. The Florida Medical Association, however, has come out in support of proposed state legislation requiring private insurers to pay for telemedicine like regular doctor visits.

Meanwhile, the new state budget in New Mexico has included roughly $600,000 for the Department of Health to expand telemedicine services in the state, and a $500,000 increase for Project ECHO (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes), a telemedicine model developed at the University of New Mexico.

The use of telephone consults was noted in the changes that the American Telemedicine Association is seeking in the Federation of State Medical Board's (FSMB) proposed regulation of telemedicine. The existing document refers to telemedicine as a videoconferencing or store-forward technology; ATA wants phone and email consults included in the language.

What's more, it has asked the federation to implement a policy that provides a standard of care for telemedicine equal to--but not more cumbersome--than that of in-person care.

To learn more:
- read the Spokesman-Review article

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