- Michigan lawmakers unanimously voted in favor of a bill this week that requires physicians to “consult with a patient or obtain the patient’s consent” before providing telehealth services, mHealth Intelligence reports.
- The bill aims to allay concerns that telemedicine undermines the patient-doctor relationship and quality of care.
- Now headed to Gov. Rick Snyder’s (R) office, S.B. 753 will take effect 90 days after it is signed into law.
In addition to providing counseling and care, the bill allows providers to issue prescriptions for non-controlled substances via telehealth. “This is a common sense health care reform for a modern age,” Sen. Peter MacGregor (R), the bill’s sponsor, said in a statement. “Society has never been more connected, yet a patient’s ability to see a medical professional is becoming more and more constrained as hospital wait times grow."
The measure was backed by the ERISA Industry Committee, which advocates for companies on benefit and compensation policies, the U.S. Department of Justice, and businesses in the state. However, obtaining patient consent prior to providing telehealth services has been a common requirement across the country and it "may delay care in emergencies," the Heartland Telehealth Resource Center noted.
Meanwhile, Texas’ medical board and telehealth provider Teladoc are set to face off in court over the board’s rule requiring physicians to meet face-to-face with patients before they can provide treatment remotely. The provider contends the medical board's rule impedes access to telemedicine services in the state.
The variation in state telehealth regulations that currently exists is one of the several barriers to widespread adoption, according to Arizona-based eVisit, a telehealth software provider. Yet telehealth is gaining traction.
The market is expected to reach $2.83 billion by 2022, up from $572 million in 2014, Grand View Research reported in March. Among the major players are GE Healthcare, IBM, Philips Healthcare, Teladoc, Doctor on Demand and American Well. Also, the American Medical Association issued ethical guidance earlier this year on negotiating the doctor-patient experience when telemedicine is used.