Evidence shows that telepsychiatry is here to stay, which is why Dr. Edward Kaftarian provides an essential recap of the latest telehealth rules and regulations at the 2022 Psych Congress annual meeting.
Since evidence shows that telepsychiatry is here to stay, it’s only appropriate that the policies and regulations regarding telehealth are a focus of the 2022 Psych Congress annual meeting. The session, titled “Telehealth Rules and Regulations: A Post-Pandemic Update,” will be led by Dr. Edward Kaftarian, CEO of Orbit Health Telepsychiatry and member of the Psych Congress Elevate Steering Committee.
Here’s a sneak peek of what mental health clinicians might learn from this important session.
State Definitions & Policies
First, it’s critical to know if/how a particular state defines telehealth and telemedicine. Due to its widespread application, most states have a set definition that clearly outlines what qualifies as telemedicine. For instance, emailing and texting don’t count as telemedicine in most cases.
When it comes to policies, some states have unique policies to be aware of. In Indiana, for instance, a patient forgoes their confidentiality if another person walks in front of or behind their camera. Other states require hospitals to have special telemedicine-specific policies.
That’s why Dr. Kaftarian stresses the importance of understanding each state’s unique definitions and policies.
Standard of Care
In addition to definitions and policies, some states also have different standards for telemedicine. But the majority view it as having the same standard as in-person care.
Now as Dr. Kaftarian pointed out in a recent article, there are of course some limitations to telemedicine, so it makes sense to build those limitations into the standard of care. The key, however, is that it shouldn’t be so limited that the standard of care isn’t reached.
For the next important consideration, Dr. Kaftarian provides the following rule of thumb: clinicians need a license to practice medicine in the state where the patient is located—not necessarily the state in which the clinician lives.
There are also telemedicine-specific permits and licenses available, but Dr. Kaftarian warns that they are limited licenses that can come with some extreme restrictions. For instance, some states don’t permit clinicians to see patients in person if they have a telemedicine license in that same state. That’s why Dr. Kaftarian recommends reading the fine print about the restrictions that can come along with a telemedicine license.
Some states require clinicians to have specific malpractice insurance for telemedicine, so clinicians should notify their malpractice carriers if they’re providing telemedicine. In some cases, this might mean adding a rider to a current policy or even needing a completely new policy.
To learn about a state’s specific requirements, Dr. Kaftarian recommends visiting the website of the state’s medical board. Some other resources include regional telehealth resource centers, the American Psychiatric Association, and the Orbit Health website. And when in doubt, Dr. Kaftarian recommends retaining an attorney for official legal advice regarding telemedicine.
Kaftarian, Edward. “Telehealth Policies and Regulations Clinicians Should Know About.” Hmpgloballearningnetwork.com. Psych Congress Network, June 15, 2022. https://www.hmpgloballearningnetwork.com/site/pcn/videos/telehealth-policies-and-regulations-clinicians-should-know-about.