Imagine you have a cold or sore throat, something minor but you know you need to see a doctor to get the prescription you want to get better. Sometimes it is too difficult and our schedules are so demanding that it makes more sense to handle routine medical appointments using technology instead of driving to the doctor’s office or hospital. Imagine how much productivity time at work is lost due to employees being out of work seeking medical attention. There is a new technology in town, at a hospital or doctor’s office near you and it is called telemedicine.
Mayo Clinic is one of the hospitals taking advantage of telemedicine and technology to treat patients all over who seek the advice of a specialist at watch this video and see a demonstration of how it all works at Mayo when they use telemedicine.
Telemedicine is defined by the American Telemedicine Association (ATA) as “the use of medical information exchanged from one site to another via electronic communications to improve a patient’s clinical health status.” Telemedicine may include services using two-way video, email, smart phones, wireless tools and other forms of telecommunications technology.”
Insurance companies, employers, hospital administrations all like the idea of telemedicine because the doctors can see more patients and there is a decreased burden on staff and hospital administration. Watch this interesting video demonstrating how telemedicine works. By going online and making an appointment with a doctor, the patient will be connected with their doctor or a license Doctor in their state. As you can imagine there are several concerns about law and policy regarding telecommunications and the practice of medicine when not conducted live and in person. The Federation of state medical boards House of Delegates recently adopted a model policy for the appropriate use of telemedicine technology, the “FSMB Telemedicine Policy.” A FSMB press release states that telemedicine, “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.”
Read the Model Policy for the Appropriate Use of Telemedicine Technologies in the Practice of Medicine. Chicago health lawyer, Michael V. Favia recently reviewed the model policy and stated, “Physicians and health lawyers should become familiar with these rules.”
Here is a summary as published in the recent article in the JD Supra Business Advisor, “The FSMB Telemedicine Policy includes the following guidelines for the “appropriate use of telemedicine technologies in a medical practice:”
- physician must be licensed or under the jurisdiction of the medical board of the state where the patient is located;
- physician must take appropriate steps to establish a physician-patient relationship;
- there must be a documented medical evaluation before providing treatment to the patient;
- patient must provide informed consent for the use of telemedicine technologies;
- patient should have the ability to seek, “with relative ease,” follow-up care from the physician who provided care through telemedicine;
- physician must have an emergency plan in place if referral to an acute care facility or emergency room is appropriate for the patient;
- patient’s medical records should be accessible and documented for the physician and patient in accordance with all requirements for medical records;
- physician should “meet or exceed” federal and state privacy requirements, including HIPAA;
- online services used by a physician should make specific disclosures including fee arrangements and physician contact information; and
- steps need to be taken to ensure the prescribing physician upholds patient safety in the absence of an in-person examination, including confirming the identity of the patient.”
If you have any questions about the model policy and how health lawyers and physicians can take the proper steps to learn and integrate the policy into their practice you may contact Michael V. Favia for more information by calling (773) 631-4580.
If you are interested in learning more about Michael V. Favia & Associates, serving Chicago and its suburban communities, please visit the Favia Law Firm website for resources and articles of interest. To contact the firm to speak to a lawyer about a healthcare-related concern, you may dial (773) 631-4580. For more information about the firm’s practice areas, you can also visit the firm’s Facebook and Twitter sites. Please “LIke” and “Follow” respectively to keep in touch!
 JD Supra Business Advisor, State Medical Board Association Adopts Telemedicine Guidelines. By Bruce D. Armon and Karilynn Baus, May 9, 2014.
 Michael V. Favia is the principal of The Law Firm of Michael V. Favia & Associates in Chicago.
 See FN 1 above.