Health Care Alert: Three Important Issues for Providers to Consider When Offering Telehealth Services
By Omar Hazimah on November 14, 2022
As a result of the successful measures implemented in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, many states have expanded their telehealth laws to provide more satisfactory services to patients. Market research has shown that telehealth is effective at reducing the odds of no-show visits1 and that 94% of telehealth patients would use telehealth services again2. These outstanding statistics should alert providers and organizations of their opportunity to expand their telehealth practices to patients across the country. Below are best practices for providers and organizations to implement before providing telehealth services to patients located in other states.
1. Ascertain What State Law Governs
Before providing telehealth services, providers and organizations must ascertain what state telehealth requirements govern in order to determine a) if telehealth is permissible in that state and b) the appropriate licensure requirements. Generally, the location of the patient determines where the health care professional needs to be licensed. In addition to licensure, every state has different rules and requirements for providing telehealth services, including the scope of health care services permitted to practice telehealth. For example, in Ohio a “licensed health care professional” is able to provide telehealth services to patients located in the state. The term “licensed health care professional” encompasses a wide range of licensed professionals including physicians, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, registered nurses, and physical therapists. As more providers and organizations expand the use of telehealth to patients located outside of their state, it is critical to understand the respective state requirements for providing telehealth services.
2. Determine Applicable Exceptions
After determining what state laws apply, providers and organizations should next determine if there are any licensure exceptions that allow an out-of-state health care professional to practice without a full state license. Frequently, states will have exceptions to allow out-of-state health care professionals to provide services without being licensed by the state in which the patient is located. For example, in Ohio, physicians who are licensed out-of-state are able provide consultations in Ohio if the physician-patient relationship is established and the physician does not provide consultation services on a regular or frequent basis. Understanding if an exception exists can help providers and organizations gauge if a full state licensure is required.
3. Find Out if the State is Part of an Interstate Compact
If a full state licensure is required, the final step for providers and organizations is to determine if that provider’s home state and the specific state in which the patient is located is part of an interstate compact. Many state licensing boards are beginning to enter interstate compacts to allow qualified health care professionals to practice in other states that are part of the compact. The result of these compacts allows for a more cost-effective and flexible avenue to provide services to patients in other states. Stay tuned for our next blog for more information on interstate compacts.
Our health care attorneys at Brouse McDowell are well-versed in state licensing laws and can efficiently assist you with legal counsel in this new, complex, and ever-changing industry. Please contact us for more information.