Functional Medicine Telehealth: Does Standard of Care Change?

Functional Medicine Telehealth: Does Standard of Care Change?

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In today’s video, we talk to those of you who want to make functional medicine work in a virtual healthcare, telehealth, telemedicine platform, that means without seeing the patient in person.

We’ve  represented  so many  functional  medicine  practices and groups,  and  in addition,  for  my  own  health,  I consult with a functional medicine doctor.  I’m deeply interested in gut health, immune health, and a healthy diet.

And while I wasn’t the most popular person when I brought sauerkraut to my brother’s house during a family vacation, and unfortunately it dripped all the way down the refrigerator, I still believe in prebiotics and probiotics.

Hi everyone, I’m Michael H. Cohen, founding attorney of the Cohen Healthcare Law Group. We help healthcare industry clients navigate the difficult world of healthcare and FDA legal issues so they can successfully launch or continue to grow their health and wellness product or service or platform.

Joe was an MD who lived in one state and moved to another. His problem was, his patient base lived in the old state. Joe had an all-cash practice and didn’t want to deal with insurance.  He had opted out of Medicare. Does this sound familiar?

Joe came to our legal team with a number of questions.  Did he have to maintain his license in the old state and/or did he need to get licensed in the new state?  Could he prescribe, remotely? Could he prescribe controlled substances?  Could he sell supplements at a reasonable markup through a digital portal?  Did he need special language in his telemedicine consent forms? And many, many other questions.

What about a basic privacy policy, and terms of use for his website?    And, since he sold supplements through his website, could we look at the claims that he was making for those products and assess whether he had any FDA liability or FTC liability?  What did he need to cover in terms of HIPAA and privacy and security concerns even though he had a good EMR?

These are some of the many typical kinds of questions that our telemedicine and functional medicine providers ask us, integrative medicine providers as well or anyone that takes any type of approach to healthcare whether it’s conventional or not, even if they’re evidence-based and they have a lot of support in the professional community.

One of the key takeaways we give our clients is that, whether you deliver medical services in person or online, you always want to think about standard of care.  Standard of care has been and continues to be the bellwether for regulators whenever a healthcare practice or business comes to their attention.  They will turn to a medical expert they have on retainer, it will likely be a conventional medical doc, and ask whether the diagnostic and therapeutic approaches were or were not standard of care.

This can be tricky, given that many functional and integrative approaches (and whatever else is coming down the pike) may not yet be recognized yet by the majority or by the conventional docs yet, or even the medical board experts, yet, to the extent there is lots of evidence in the literature that can provide a compelling defense to any regulatory attack based on standard of care.

There’s much more, thank you for watching. Here’s to the success of your healthcare venture, we look forward to speaking with you very soon.

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