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   TELEMEDICINE/TELEHEALTH

Our Georgia-based business and healthcare law firm assists medical practices, physicians and other licensed healthcare provisions in understanding and meeting the requirements of telehealth rules and regulations.   This area of health law is rapidly evolving to keep up with the industry’s fast paced needs and developments  and therefore warrants very careful consideration of potential pitfalls that attend this opportunity for healthcare providers.  Whether you are an individual physician or other healthcare practitioner, physician practice CEO, or another healthcare business, we can assist you in developing a sound business approach that is compliant with legal requirements.

Georgia-based Telemedicine Lawyers

Like any other aspect of the business of healthcare delivery, a telehealth platform will raise particular legal considerations.   Telemedicine, however, raises some unique regulatory and legal issues.  The types of legal issues may include, for example:

  • Proper interpretation of the geographic territory described in a physician employment/non-compete agreement where either the physician or patient being treated is physically located outside of such territory.
  • The application of state medical practice acts that define the practice of medicine to include diagnosis, treatment or consultation with a patient located within that state’s borders, and associated licensure and disciplinary matters where there is noncompliance.
  • Credentials and certification requirements under applicable state law for telemedicine providers.
  • The application of state tort law and standard of care where physician and patient are in different states at the moment of alleged malpractice.
  • State law delegation of duties requirements and parameters where telemedicine delivery involves the assistance of a midlevel provider.
  • Whether the specific details of applicable professional liability coverage exclude healthcare services delivered via “telemedicine” or “telehealth” platforms.
  • Whether telehealth services are reimbursable under a private third party payor provider agreement.
  • What telehealth services are reimbursable by Federal payor programs, such as Medicare, and the specific details of such programs’ requirements.
  • What informed consent requirements exist under applicable law for telemedicine.
  • What methods of telehealth communications meet patient privacy, confidentiality and data security requirements under applicable state law and/or under HIPAA.
  • The application of Federal and state fraud and abuse laws to health care services delivered via telecommunications.
  • How the delivery of telehealth services should be treated in physician employment agreements.

What is “telemedicine”?

In this day where so much technology touches so many aspects of the delivery of health care, a discussion of “telemedicine” begs the question: what do we mean by that word?  The Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) defines telemedicine this way:

The practice of medicine using electronic communications, information technology or other means of interaction between a licensee in one location, and a patient in another location with or without an intervening healthcare provider.

The FSMB specifically excludes from its definition audio-only telephone conversations, e-mail/instant messaging conversations and facsimile communications.  The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services define telemedicine to cover two-way, real time interactive communications between the patient and distant-site physician (or other healthcare practitioner) and excludes telephone, email or fax.  Most states have their own definition of “telemedicine” (or, alternatively, “telehealth).  Therefore, depending upon what payors are involved in a medical practice, typically both federal and state law should therefore be consulted in each instance to determine whether and how applicable regs impact a particular healthcare delivery model.  Included in the required analysis may be evaluation of certain telemedicine terms of art, including “distant site,” “originating site,” “remote provider,” “store-and-forward” and “provider extender or telepresenter.”

Key issues will typically include licensure requirements under State law (including potential application of the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact formed by the FSMB); rules, laws and/or third party payor contractual provisions governing reimbursement; standard of care and malpractice considerations; and, for physicians, proper interpretation and application of non-compete agreements implicated by telehealth services.

As is often the case in the arcane regulatory world of healthcare law, spotting the issues is often half the battle in avoiding legal or professional pitfalls.

CALL US TODAY

Since 1997, our law firm has provided devoted personal service to our clients, and our exclusive focus is the healthcare industry.  Our AV-rated business and health care law firm has offices in Atlanta and Augusta, Georgia and we serve clients throughout the United States with business and healthcare law issues, including telehealth legal matters.  Contact us at either office or by email to info@hamillittle.com to schedule a consultation regarding your legal need.  We look forward to speaking with you.