California lawmakers ease telehealth access for residents


California Gov. Jerry Brown signed into law new legislation that makes is easier for patients to access telehealth services.

Under the new rules, all patients have to do is provide verbal or written consent to being treated through telehealth at an initial meeting with their provider. Previously, patients had to provide consent every time they meet with a doctor, and that the consent be documented only at the originating site.

“We worked with multiple stakeholders on this bill and those seeking treatment through telehealth will be better off for it,” California State Assemblyman Daniel Logue said in a press release. “Telehealth benefits everyone but those who benefit most are in rural areas like my district. When the nearest specialist is hundreds of miles away, telehealth becomes about more than convenience; it is about saving lives.”

“When the nearest specialist is hundreds of miles away, telehealth becomes about more than convenience.”Previous legislation, passed in 2011, expanded telehealth access throughout the state and increased the number of specialties that could use the technology and qualify for reimbursements. At that time, legislators replaced all references from “telemedicine” to “telehealth,” which they say, was broader and more appropriate term. Perhaps more importantly, the act of 2011 ended the requirement that doctors state specifically why a patient couldn’t attend a face-to-face meeting before agreeing to use telehealth.

Since then, lawmakers had been working with various stakeholders to further improve access to telehealth services, resulting in the new law passed this week.

In contrast to California, states like Georgia and Tennessee want to improve the physician-patient relationship and introduce legislation that would stay on the way of broader telehealth adoption. Needless to say, the American Telemedicine Association opposes those measures, arguing they contradict guidelines recently amended by the Federation of State Medical Boards.

[Via: mHealthNews, image from coachorg]