Experts say, legal barrier restrict telehealth’s reach

Telehealth software and remote patient monitoring software can give patients access to healthcare. Infact, telehealth can provide patients access to care no matter where they are geographically, according to proponents. Stakeholders from Walgreens and American Well to Blue Cross Blue Shield and the Department of Veteran Affairs have used the word “anywhere” to promote their work in the realm of telehealth.

But, legal experts mentioned in the 2018 Public Health Law Conference, “anywhere” may be bit of a stretch.

Whether medical professionals can treat someone via telehealth varied widely by jurisdiction, since medical practice is regulated at the state level. All 50 states and most of the territories at least had one law referring to telehealth according to Dawn Pepin, J.D., a public health analyst with the Public Health Law Program (PHLP) at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which analyzed 2,233 telehealth-related statutes and regulations.

Each state may have multiple laws that describe every single aspect of telehealth and they set forth how its going to be regulated, says Pepin. Some build telehealth regulations into broader laws about medicine, pharmacy, dentistry and so on. Thus, at times there are detailed laws regarding telehealth that restrict its utility.