The Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) has approved state guidelines for practicing medicine through the use of telemedicine technology.
The guidelines, from the FSMB, which represents state medical boards, state the standards of care that have historically protected patients during in-person medical encounters must apply to medical care delivered electronically. Telemedicine care providers must establish a credible “patient-physician relationship,” according to these guidelines, thus ensuring that patients are properly evaluated and treated and that providers adhere to well-established principles guiding privacy and security of personal health information, informed consent, safe prescribing and other key areas of medical practice.
“Telemedicine offers wonderful tools to help expand treatment options for patients – particularly in helping provide care in remote areas, lowering costs and helping support preventive care efforts,” FSMB President and CEO Humayun J. Chaudhry, DO, said in a statement. “But as telemedicine has grown, so too, has the need for clear, common-sense guidelines that help health care providers transition to this exciting new environment in a safe way.”
The guidelines are advisory and state boards are free to adopt it as is, modify it, or retain their own current policies regarding telemedicine. The American Telemedicine Association (ATA) mostly agreed with the recommendations from the FSMB, but did request multiple modifications. They said that the policy did not address physician-to-physician consultations and should, since these consults occur every day.