The practice of telehealth has exploded over the past year in COVID, providing physicians with different options for safely treating patients when the patient is unable to come to the office.
As there continue to be a lot of updates related to telehealth, the OSMA Government Relations staff is here to share the latest guidance, and make sure your voice is heard as conversations about telehealth happen at the state and federal levels.
Medical Board Updated Guidance on Telemedicine in Ohio
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Earlier in August, the State Medical Board of Ohio issued updated FAQs related to telehealth. These FAQs provide guidance on telemedicine in Ohio and the Medical Board’s resumption of enforcement on December 31, 2021 of its laws and rules requiring in-person visits in certain situations.
Here is what you need to know:
- The medical board does not have a set of rules specific to the practice of telemedicine. There are several rules that require in-person visits, and the board is halting these requirements until Dec. 31. It is important to understand what services you are permitted to perform via telemedicine under the existing rules.
- It cannot be stressed enough that the standard of care for telemedicine must be consistent with the standard of care for in-person medical care. A physician can face disciplinary action for “a departure from, or the failure to conform to,” minimal standards of care of similar practitioners under the same or similar circumstances, whether or not actual injury to a patient is established.
- One of the drawbacks of telemedicine is the potential to create fragmented care. As in any patient-physician interaction, physicians should take steps to promote continuity of care, giving consideration to how information can be preserved and accessible for future episodes of care in keeping with patients’ preferences (or the decisions of their surrogates) and how follow-up care can be provided when needed. (See AMA Ethical Opinion 2.12)
To learn more, visit the updated FAQ from the State Medical Board of Ohio.
Telehealth Legislative Update
As a reminder, there is current legislation pending concerning telehealth that could impact the medical board’s rules. House Bill 122 passed in the Ohio House in April and is currently under consideration in the Senate Health Committee. The bill includes provisions that would make many of the telehealth rule changes which were enacted due to the pandemic permanent.
As HB 122 could pass in the coming months, the board is proactively revisiting its telemedicine rules and reaching out to stakeholders for input. OSMA has been actively monitoring the progress of HB 122 in the legislature and the medical board’s response in order to report out any developments to Ohio physicians.
AMA Telehealth Immersion Programs
OSMA members have access to AMA’s Telehealth Immersion Program, a comprehensive digital guide to help physicians navigate the world of telehealth and learn best practices for leveraging this with patients.
We hope you’ll take advantage of this resource, and other information on OSMA’s Telehealth Guidance page.
OSMA works hard to gather physician feedback to help inform our advocacy efforts. If you have any questions about OSMA’s work with telehealth, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
New AMA Report on Uptick in Telehealth Use During Pandemic
A new report based on the AMA’s Physician Practice Benchmark Survey describes the rapid uptick in physicians’ use of telehealth between Sept. 2018 and Sept. 2020. Over that period, the share of physicians in practices that used videoconferencing to provide patient visits increased from 14.3% to 70.3%. The report also shows that telehealth was used to treat a diverse set of patients with a variety of needs. In 2020, 58.0% of physicians said their practices used telehealth to diagnose or treat patients, 59.2% to manage patients with chronic disease and 50.4% to provide care to patients with acute disease.
State Medical Board of Ohio Asking for Telemedicine Feedback
In August, the State Medical Board of Ohio announced an extension of the moratorium of enforcement of its telemedicine laws and rules that require in-person patient visits, through December 31, 2021. Additionally, the Board determined that, in light of increasing feedback from stakeholders about the need for more permanent changes to telemedicine rules, it is important to begin a public dialogue to gather commentary on the Board’s rules.
Want to be part of the Board’s telemedicine discussion? Help us provide feedback to the medical board about your experiences with telemedicine.