Medical Board October Updates
Weight Loss Prescribing Rules:
Medical Board Commits to Explore the Need for Change
The medical board recently announced that it will be working with physicians who specialize in weight loss medicine to make amendments to the board’s current, restrictive rules regarding prescribing controlled substances for the purpose of weight loss. Many weight loss experts feel that the board’s time limits on treatment are not appropriate and, worse, they have the potential to disrupt a patient’s weight loss progress. Medical Board staff conducted a nationwide survey of weight loss prescribing rules and found that Ohio’s rule is among the most restrictive. While the medical board does not want to do away with the rules entirely, they have acknowledged that the rules do not need to be as restrictive.
The OSMA is actively monitoring these rules and we will be directly working with state and national weight loss experts as these rules are reviewed.
Ohio’s Telemedicine Rules:
Will the Moratorium on In-Person Visits Become Permanent?
The State Medical Board of Ohio (SMBO) has a variety of in-person patient care requirements, mostly relative to prescribing situations. Since March 2020, enforcement of those in-person requirements has been put on hold due to the ongoing pandemic. The moratorium on in-person requirements is set to expire on December 31.
In recent months, the medical board has heard from various stakeholders, including the OSMA, who have stated that they would like to see telemedicine continue. In response to stakeholder interaction, the medical board is in the process of assessing their regulations to ensure:
1) Ongoing patient safety.
2) The continued evolution of healthcare tools that benefit patients.
House Bill 122, a bill that greatly expands a provider’s ability to use telemedicine, has passed the house and is moving through the Senate. The medical board has concerns with the bill as drafted. Regardless of the path of legislation, the medical board would like to pursue changes to the in-person patient care requirements in the current rules.
At the medical board’s most recent meeting, many members of the board expressed concern about telemedicine visits meeting the same standard of care of in-person visits. The medical board also expressed concerns that telemedicine, if not utilized responsibly, could lead to continuity of care issues. The board members want the rules to ensure that if a health care professional determines at any time during the provision of telehealth services that the telehealth visit does not meet the in-person standard of care for the health care issue of the patient, the health care professional shall immediately schedule the patient for an in-person visit or refer the patient for an in-person visit to another health care professional that can conduct the in-person visit. The board also believes that it is important that health care professionals use synchronous, interactive, real-time electronic communication technology comprised of both audio and video elements to provide telehealth services. Many stakeholders expressed concerns about mandating interactive telehealth standards because some of their patients do not have access to internet services or electronic devices. The board discussed allowing exceptions in certain circumstances.
This is a fast-moving issue that OSMA is actively following. We will report developments to both the telemedicine legislation and the medical board’s rule changes as they develop.