Post-COVID Telemedicine Licensing Requirements: Easier?

Post-COVID Telemedicine Licensing Requirements: Easier?

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In today’s video, we discuss whether in a post-COVID world, telemedicine licensing laws will be easier.

Hi, i’m Michael H. Cohen, founding attorney of the Cohen Healthcare Law Group. We help healthcare industry clients navigate healthcare and FDA legal issues so you can launch, or continue to scale, your health and wellness product success.

In previous videos, we talked about how some states changed the licensing rules during COVID and relaxed the requirement that physicians treating patients in their state be licensed in that state.

We then talked about the second element on the telemedicine law checklist, which is whether the medical doctor must do a good faith “appropriate” prior examination, and whether this has to be done in-person or not.

If you’re a telemedicine company, then obviously your business model is going to be a lot more expensive if the providers or medical doctors in your network, or maybe the nurse practitioners have to see the patient in-person.

Next, we talked about the third element, which can be somewhat obscure or hidden: the requirement that the physician abide by the standard of care.  While most physicians do abide by standard of care, medical boards can be sticklers if they believe that certain health conditions can only be diagnosed or treated with a prior in-person visit.

Last, we talked about how some states were granting limited exceptions, exemptions or waivers to the requirement that the physician be licensed in their state, but that these exceptions, exemptions and waivers could be time-limited, and could automatically expire when the declared state of emergency would be over.

In a post-COVID world, is it possible that the liberalization of laws around telemedicine will not only end, but will snap back to pre-COVID borders?

Yes, it is possible.  And practitioners and telemedicine companies alike should beware and should consult with healthcare legal counsel to beware of hidden legal and regulatory pitfalls.

In some states, this exam must be in-person, whereas in other states, it can be done digitally, online or via a mobile phone or tablet – it’s a moving landscape.

Let’s look at one more hidden legal trap in this video, and that is the quirky telemedicine law which says one thing in one place but then says another later.  Here, our example is going to be from Georgia.

Georgia law requires that the physician who provides care or treatment for a patient by electronic or other means shall make diligent efforts to ensure that the patient has been seen and examined in person by a Georgia licensed physician, physician assistant or nurse practitioner at least annually.

And it is unprofessional conduct in Georgia for a physician to provide treatment via electronic or other means unless a history and physical examination of the patient has been performed by a Georgia licensee.

So, at first blush Georgia appears to allow a digital exam only—and pardon the pun, I don’t mean digital, I mean digital as in electronic.

But then, Georgia clarifies that the law in fact does require at least an annual in-person, physical exam. That’s just contradictory, but that’s just what they say.

If you’re interested in an early read on your healthcare business model, you would probably benefit from a Legal Strategy Session which is how we like to get most clients started and it’s with a member of our Legal Team.

Thanks for watching. If you still have questions, click on the link below, cohenhealthcarelaw.com, to send us a message or book an appointment. Here’s to the success of your healthcare venture, we look forward to speaking with you soon.

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