The world is witnessing never seen before adoption rates for telemedicine. Fuelled by the global healthcare emergency and changing user preferences for healthcare delivery, telemedicine has gone mainstream all over the US and Florida is no exception.
However, there are numerous legal concerns and regulatory hurdles that need to be overcome before you can get your telemedicine practice up and running. Planning to set up a telemedicine practice in the state of Florida? Here’s what you need to know.
State of Telemedicine in Florida
The sunshine state, like the rest of the United States is experiencing a shortage of healthcare practitioners needed to fulfil the care needs of the growing population. The U.S. health resources and services administration (HSRA) has projected a need for 3060 additional primary care physicians for the state of florida by 2025.
Telemedicine can prove to be instrumental in bridging this gap and making healthcare more accessible and cost effective at the same time.
Florida recently set up the necessary legislation for telemedicine. The concrete efforts to get telemedicine laws for the state started in 2017 but the bill was finally passed into law during the 2019 legislative session.
Here are the frequently asked questions about the legislative landscape for practicing telemedicine in Florida and the information you need to get started.
What is covered under telemedicine in Florida?
Under the house bill 23 (HB23), telemedicine is defined as the use of synchronous and asynchronous communications technology by a telehealth provider to provide healthcare services. These include,
- Patient monitoring
- Transfer of medical data
- Patient and professional health-education
- Public health services
- Health administration.
Florida recognizes all three types of telemedicine. So practitioners can choose to offer real-time telemedicine services that involve video consultations (synchronous telemedicine), provide data-driven care through store-and-forward (asynchronous) telemedicine or make use of medical devices and healthcare wearables for remote patient monitoring. All three forms of telemedicine are recognized under Florida telemedicine laws.
Do telephone calls fall under telemedicine?
The definition of telemedicine for the state of Florida does not include audio-only telephone calls, emails or fax transmissions. Use of these to provide healthcare services to the patients does not fall under the purview of telemedicine.
Who can practice telemedicine in Florida?
All healthcare practitioners who are licensed to practice in the state of Florida can use telemedicine to deliver healthcare services through telemedicine. Out-of-state health care practitioners must be registered with the Florida Department of Health to perform telehealth services for patients in Florida.
Healthcare professionals not licensed within Florida can also provide healthcare services through telemedicine by registering with the applicable board or department.
Is a pre-established doctor-patient relationship necessary to practice telemedicine in Florida?
Telehealth services in Florida are not limited by the need of an existing patient provider relationship. This allows for a wider patient base for the physicians. Examining a patient in-person is not a primary requirement for practicing telemedicine.
Florida allows physicians to treat patients directly through telemedicine if the providers feel that evaluation though video consultations is sufficient grounds for diagnosis and treatment. Evaluation of the patient’s previous health records or conducting a physical exam is not necessary for telemedicine.
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Can practitioners without a license to practice in Florida use telemedicine in the state?
Legislation for telemedicine in Florida requires the practitioners to be licensed with the Florida department of health to practice in the state. However, there are a couple of exceptions where practitioners who do not hold a florida license can still practice telemedicine.
- In case of a medical emergency
- In consultation with another healthcare practitioner licensed in florida for specialist referrals where the authority of diagnosis and patient care lies with the licensed physician.
Can telemedicine practitioners prescribe medications electronically?
Florida’s telemedicine laws allow for licensed practitioners to prescribe medications through ePrescribing. However, prescription of controlled substances by telemedicine practitioners is not allowed. Controlled substances can only be prescribed electronically if the prescription is for the treatment of a psychiatric disorder or for inpatient treatment at a hospital or hospice or nursing facility. Before writing the prescription, the doctor must complete a patient evaluation and take their medical history to establish a diagnosis.
Payment for telemedicine: Does Florida have parity laws?
There are no parity laws for telemedicine currently in Florida. The legislation does not legally require private payers or Medicaid to cover telemedicine visits similar to that of in-person visits. However, it states that contracts between health insurers or health maintenance organizations and telehealth providers must be voluntary and must establish mutually acceptable payment rates or payment methodologies for services provided through telehealth in Florida.
As a result of the coronavirus pandemic, changes in payment related legislation at the federal level resulted in greater coverage of telemedicine under insurance. The 1135 waiver introduced cost-sharing waivers or reductions for telehealth visits. These waivers and reductions cover services subsidized through healthcare programs at federal levels.
What security measures need to be in place for practicing telemedicine in Florida?
Telemedicine is bound by legal regulations to hold patient data to the highest levels of security and data privacy. Telemedicine visits need to be documented into the patient’s electronic health records and are subject to laws like HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act)
When you partner with an experienced telemedicine development company for a custom developing your telemedicine platform, staying on top of security concerns gets easier. It also makes it easier for you to sync the telemedicine software with other healthcare software that you may be using within your practice like appointment scheduling software, billing software, electronic medical software etc.
With a decade of experience developing telemedicine software for a wide range of clients, Arkenea is America’s trusted telemedicine company. Have further questions about starting your telemedicine practice in Florida? Get in touch with our telemedicine experts today.