Telemedicine Overhaul Introduced in North Dakota Senate

Posted By American Med Spa Association, Wednesday, January 2, 2019

A new telemedicine bill was just introduced in the North Dakota Senate.  The Bill was introduced by Human Services on December 21 at the request of the North Dakota Board of Medicine. If enacted, it would expand and refine the existing laws on telemedicine by adding standards of care and ethics, rules on prescribing, and refining the definition of telemedicine. The bill known as Senate Bill number 2094 (SB 2094) was pre-filed on in advance of the start of the 2019 legislative session which begins on January 3rd
Under current law, only physicians are authorized to utilize telemedicine. If SB 2094 is enacted, physician assistants would also be authorized. SB 2094 also clarifies that a practitioner providing care (including via telemedicine) to a patient located in North Dakota is practicing medicine in North Dakota and needs to be licensed by the Board of Medicine. However, there is no restriction placed on the provider, so the North Dakota licensed physician or PA could be located out of state and still provide care to their in-state patients.
In addition to these changes, SB 2094 would also add two sections to the existing law. The first section relates to the standard of care and ethical standards that a practitioner must meet when providing care through telemedicine. This includes meeting the same standards as if the care was given in-person, including demonstrating competence in the area of practice, forming a valid patient relationship, providing an adequate examination, maintaining records, and the ability to make referrals, if warranted. The second section includes rules for prescribing medication via telemedicine. Specifically, it prohibits prescribing opioids unless it is part of an FDA-approved treatment for opioid use and requires that telemedicine prescribers comply with all North Dakota laws including participation in the prescription drug monitoring program.
AmSpa will be monitoring the progress of this bill once the legislature convenes next week. As telemedicine is a fairly new area of medicine, the level of detail in regulations can vary significantly state to state. It will be interesting to see how much traction this bill gains. Full text of the SB 2094 and its legislative position can be found on the State’s website  here.