Florida Would Refine Telehealth Practices if New Bill Passes

Posted By American Med Spa Association, Monday, March 4, 2019

A new bill introduced in the Florida Legislature would permit provide clearer guidelines to use telehealth technology. The Bill was filed in the House by Representative Loranne Ausleyand is currently with the Health Quality Subcommittee. You can review the text of House Bill 947 (HB 947) in full here.  HB 947 would bolster Florida’s current telemedicine regime by providing a number of definitions and practice standards to utilizing telemedicine. HB 947 would make the standard of care for telehealth the same as if the patient was seen in person. Health care records would need to be kept to the same standards as in person patients and patients are not required to give additional consent to receiving service via telehealth. The provider may perform an evaluation and render a diagnosis entirely through telecommunication means if the evaluation would have been sufficient face to face. HB 947 would allow non-physicians to provide services via telecommunication that are within their scope of practice. Health care providers who are able to prescribe medication would be able to do so under HB 947 except that they may not prescribe for chronic non-malignant pain or provide a physician certification for marijuana. Of note, HB 947 would allow telehealth services to be delivered via both synchronous and asynchronous telecommunications technologies. This would allow some services to be based on review of previously captured data, known as “store and forward” and not necessarily require a video chat with the patient as long as the above standard of care requirement is met. Also of note, is the provision that interactions via text message are permitted in some circumstances. Many states explicitly require that telehealth be a two way video conference. The general trend in telehealth or telemedicine has been to treat it as another tool in the delivery of healthcare services and to not to add many additional requirements over the in-person standard of care. In that respect, HB 947 is in line with other states. We will be monitoring HB 947 as it works its way through Florida’s legislative process this year. A similar bill known as HB 23 was filed in the House shortly after HB 947, we will cover it in more detail once it is clear which bill becomes the leading bill. If you would like to contact Representative Loranne Ausley, HB 947’s sponsor, she can be reached via his Legislative webpage.