Our healthcare and business law firm previously published a blog post on the federal telemedicine rules. Both Federal and State rules govern the provision of telemedicine. Each state’s rules governing telemedicine are different, but the applicable laws and rules are generally found in the state medical board’s rules, insurance codes, and when applicable, Medicaid rules. This post focuses specifically on the telemedicine rules applicable to the practice of telemedicine in Tennessee. This post does not discuss telemedicine prescribing rules or Medicaid rules. If you have questions about telemedicine rules or would like to discuss this blog post, you may contact our healthcare and business law firm at (404) 685-1662 (Atlanta) or (706) 722-7886 (Augusta), or by email, firstname.lastname@example.org. You may also learn more about our law firm by visiting www.hamillittle.com.
Telemedicine is authorized in Tennessee and the rules governing telemedicine are found in the Tennessee Code and Tennessee Rules and Regulations. Below is an overview of requirements currently in Tennessee governing the practice of telemedicine.
- Establishing Practitioner-Patient Relationship & Verifying Identity
A physician-patient relationship may be created through a telemedicine encounter. FAQ: Telemedicine. According to the Tennessee Board of Medical Examiners, “a physician-patient relationship exists when a physician serves a patient’s medical needs regardless of whether there has been an in-person encounter between the physician and patient.” Id. The Tennessee Board of Medical Examiners provides that the appropriate way to verify a patient’s identity through a telemedicine visit is through a “government issued photo identification and/or a facilitator.” FAQ: Telemedicine
- Adequacy of Information from Telemedicine Visits
If the information transmitted through electronic or other means as part of a patient’s telemedicine encounter is not of sufficient quality or does not contain adequate information for the remote physician to form an opinion, the physician must declare they cannot form an opinion to make an adequate diagnosis and must request direct referral for inspection and actual physical examination, request additional data, or recommend the patient be evaluated by the patient’s primary physician or other local health care provider. Tenn. R. & Reg. § 0880-02-.16.
- Treatment of Chronic Pain Prohibited
Notwithstanding the foregoing, the treatment of chronic pain (or provision of services through a pain management clinic) via telemedicine is prohibited in Tennessee. See Tenn. Code Ann. § 63-1-155; see also Tennessee Board of Medical Examiners, “FAQ: Telemedicine.”
- Additional Requirements
The Tennessee Rules also have specific requirements on using a facilitator that should be analyzed before proceeding with telemedicine in the state. Tenn. R. & Reg. § 0880-02-.16. In addition, there are specific rules around maintaining and sharing patient records when a physician-patient relationship is established and maintained via telemedicine. Tenn. R. & Reg. § 0880-02-.16; Tenn. Code Ann. §§ 63-6-214 & § 63-6-231
As is clear from the above, medical practices must be thoughtful before offering telemedicine services. If you have questions about telemedicine rules or would like to discuss this blog post, you may contact our healthcare and business law firm at (404) 685-1662 (Atlanta) or (706) 722-7886 (Augusta), or by email, email@example.com. You may also learn more about our law firm by visiting www.hamillittle.com.
*Disclaimer: Thoughts shared here do not constitute legal advice.