Is Telehealth the New Normal?
We all are confident that the United States of America and the State of Florida will get beyond the current COVID-19 pandemic. However, in these uncertain times, we are all wondering when will things return to normal?
Or will there be a new normal moving forward?
Certainly, within healthcare, providers are now having to consider new ways to provide the best healthcare to their patients. Now more than ever, Telehealth has been brought to the forefront of patient care. The concept of telehealth has been around for quite some time. However, throughout the years there have been challenges to advancing the idea, mostly related to HIPAA, patient privacy and a reluctance of relying upon technology in the past.
What is telehealth?
In 2019, the Florida Legislature passed Chapter 2019-137, which established and defined telehealth services as:
“the use of synchronous or asynchronous telecommunications technology by a telehealth provider to provide health care services, including, but not limited to, assessment, diagnosis, consultation, treatment, and monitoring of a patient; transfer of medical data; patient and professional health-related education; public health services; and health administration. The term does not include audio-only telephone calls, e-mail messages, or facsimile transmissions”Chapter 2019-137
The law requires the healthcare provider do more than just audio only telephone calls, and emails to their patients. The law requires healthcare providers to provide real time information sharing, diagnoses and treatment of their patients. We are fortunate to be living in an age in which the technology exists in which many routine doctor visits can now be done using appropriate real time technology. COVID-19 has challenged the healthcare system in this country unlike anything before. Thus, presenting the movement that telehealth may indeed be the new normal.
In our practice, we are now receiving inquires regarding, who can be a telehealth provider and what are some of the legal challenges? The law defines a telehealth provider to be any individual licensed within the State of Florida under appropriate statutes, such as Chapter 458 (Medical Doctor), Chapter 459 (Osteopathic Doctor), and Chapter 460 (Chiropractic Physician), to name a few.
As with any new concept, there can be many unforeseen legal challenges to this developing field. To protect your license, your practice, and your patients, it's always better to seek guidance on these matters than go at it alone.
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