Congresswoman Doris Matsui (D-CA) and Congressman Bill Johnson (R-OH) have introduced the Telehealth Modernization Act of 2013 (H.R. 3750). The legislation provides much needed assistance to states seeking to develop telehealth policies key to the provision of virtual healthcare.
Telehealth, the practice of bringing healthcare providers and patients together virtually, is becoming a widely accepted practice across the United States. By removing barriers such as provider shortages, distance, mobility and time constraints, telehealth is invaluable in helping to resolve our nation's greatest healthcare challenges.
The Telehealth Modernization Act promotes the proliferation of telehealth technologies by offering states consistent and clear definitions and principles they can look to for guidance when developing new policies that govern telehealth. There currently exists an inconsistent and often dated patchwork of state laws which have inhibited the deployment of telehealth in both the private and public sectors. The legislation respects current state rules around the practice of medicine, while acknowledging an increasing number of states are currently considering the issue of modernizing telehealth practice.
The bill's principles are consistent with the standard of care for in-person healthcare services, which will ensure the safe and secure deployment and utilization of telehealth, including:
- Establishing Relationships: The fundamental patient-provider relationship can be preserved, established and augmented through the use of telehealth;
- Informed Care: A healthcare professional should have access to and review the medical history of the individual he or she is treating via telehealth;
- Documentation: A healthcare professional should document the evaluation and any treatment furnished to the patient, as well as generate a medical record of the telehealth encounter;
- Continuity of Care: Telehealth technology platforms should allow each patient the ability to forward documentation to selected care providers to uphold the patient's continuity of care;
- Prescription Requirements: Prescriptions provided by telehealth providers should be issued for a legitimate medical purpose only and be filled by a valid dispensing entity.