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January 19, 2023

Trending in Telehealth: January 9 - 16, 2023

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Trending in Telehealth is a new weekly series from the McDermott Digital Health team where we track telehealth regulatory and legislative activity. Each week we will highlight developments that impact the healthcare providers, telehealth and digital health companies, pharmacists, and technology companies that deliver and facilitate the delivery of virtual care.

Trending This Week:

  • Provider Licensing
  • Telehealth Definitions
  • Tele-behavioral health

A Closer Look:

Finalized: 2

  • Illinois enacted emergency changes to the Telehealth Act and other statutes that expand the ability of certain out-of-state providers to provide reproductive care via telehealth in the state.
  • Massachusetts' Department of Medical Assistance finalized rules that amend definitions for diagnostic, case consult and treatment services (beginning on page 139), and establish requirements for licensed independent clinical social workers (LICSWs) to enroll as MassHealth providers and use of telehealth by LICSWs (beginning on page 309).
  • Oregon adopted a rule that clarifies that acupuncturists can provide telemedicine services.

Proposed: 6

  • Alaska proposed a rule that would amend the educational requirements for a professional counselor license, requiring that at least three of the hours are in telehealth. This is added alongside the existing professional ethics requirements and new additions of cultural competencies and suicidality.
  • Florida proposed updates to disciplinary rules for those licensed under the Florida Board of Osteopathic Medicine. The new rules include penalties for failing to identify to patients the type of license under which the practitioner is practicing, expanding the state's existing rules imposing penalties related to care being provided through telehealth.
  • Texas proposed three rules relating to behavior analysts' use of telehealth, as a result of a four-year rule review conducted by the Texas Department of Licensing & Regulation. These proposed rules establish requirements for behavior analysts' use of telehealth in delivering care and align definitions with telehealth regulations for other providers. The public comment period for all three rules ends on February 5, 2023.
  • Wyoming proposed a rule that would modify standards of practice for occupational therapy. This includes clarification surrounding the requirement for occupational therapists and occupational therapist assistants to hold a Wyoming license to provide services to a patient in Wyoming, including treatment delivered through telehealth technologies, at the time of services. The public comment period ends March 5, 2023.

Highlights for the Industry:

  • Illinois has expanded the ability to treat patients via telehealth. Through amendments to the Illinois Administrative Procedure Act, the Telehealth Act, and the Medical and Nurse Practice Acts, the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) may adopt an emergency rule to grant a temporary permit to certain out-of-state physicians, physician assistants, and nurse practitioners who meet certain conditions, and possess qualifications that mirror those required for licensed providers in Illinois. Providers with a temporary permit are allowed to provide care to a patient within Illinois via telehealth technologies without seeking full licensure. This change was part of a bill that updated other acts related to reproductive health but appears to extend beyond reproductive care and is authorized under emergency authority. If not renewed, IDFPR's authority to provide temporary permits expires after one year.
  • Texas proposed rules indicate the state working to align telehealth definitions across different regulations. If passed, these revisions will provide much needed continuity across different provider types in addition to streamlining licensing processes for the respective state agencies through the removal of outdated language in application provisions.
  • Activity in Texas, Massachusetts, and Alaska all indicate the increase in attention to tele-behavioral health. This coincides with an uptick in behavioral health coverage, particularly by Medicaid programs, across many states, a trend seen in 2022.

Telehealth is an important development in care delivery, but the regulatory patchwork is complicated. The McDermott Digital Health team works alongside the industry's leading providers, payors, and technology innovators to help them enter new markets, break down barriers to delivering accessible care and mitigate enforcement risk through proactive compliance. Are you working to make healthcare more accessible through telehealth? Let us help you transform telehealth.

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