Ohio Medical Board Seeks Comment on Telemedicine RulesPublished: Mar 07, 2022 by Levi Tkach
The Ohio State Legislature enacted Substitute House Bill 122 with the intent of permanently allowing the delivery of healthcare through information and communication technology, commonly referred to as “Telemedicine.” At the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, the State Medical Board of Ohio suspended enforcement of its restrictive rules that severely limited both the type of technology and the scope of permissible care for telemedicine. As medical providers began using a greater range of technology with an increased spectrum of care, the overall results demonstrated a very positive, safe, and effective mode for providing medical care. Over an 18-month period, some hospitals saw telehealth visits increase from 1% to 70% of total visits.
During the summer of 2021, when the Medical Board signaled that it would resume enforcement of its rules, which would serve to restrict telemedicine to the pre-pandemic norm, providers, hospitals, and healthcare advocacy groups united in expressing concern for patient safety and unnecessary limitation on access to care. When the Board signaled that it would not substantively overhaul its rules, the affected parties took their concerns to their elected representatives. Ultimately, the result (Sub. HB 122) compels complete revision to Ohio’s telemedicine rules.
After its February 2022 meeting, the Medical Board released preliminary draft rules for review and comment. Noteworthy areas of focus and changes include:
- The new Rules require the same standard of care for a telehealth visit as for in-person visits.
- Telephone calls (where no visual communication is possible) are restricted to bona fide health care visits that meet the standard of care in all other respects.
- Documentation stands out as a primary focus of the Board. Telehealth practitioners will be required to document every detail in the patient’s chart. From consent to treatment forms and acknowledgments, to patent education, to referrals, and required follow-up appointments. Every facet of the telehealth visit must be documented.
- Prescribing medication via telehealth, including controlled substances, will be permissible under the proposed rules provided that all in-person requirements are met and the encounter is properly documented.
- A single in-person visit does not create the presumption that subsequent medication prescribed via telehealth has been issued for a legitimate medical purpose.
After the Board reviews comments on its initial draft, it will review the rules internally and consider revisions before a second comment period. While the Board has not set a firm timetable for its review, the next comment period could occur as soon as Mid-March 2022, following the next Board meeting. Graff & McGovern, LPA will continue to track the comments and revisions to these draft rules.
If you are a medical professional or a patient and you have questions regarding telemedicine, you should consider contacting the attorneys at Graff & McGovern, LPA. Our attorneys have decades of experience representing licensed professionals, including Physicians, Physician Assistants, Nurses, and Pharmacists in Ohio. Attorney Levi Tkach can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.