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If the intent is to enable the rendering of care through prescribing, a review of theshould be undertaken.The viability of a telehealth venture often depends on the payment model which the practice is engaged in with insurers.The ATA estimates that there are about 200 telemedicine networks currently in operation.
Are there lots of rules and restrictions that might make it unappealing?
According to Elizabeth Westbrook, government relations advisor at the law firm of Buchanan, Ingersoll & Rooney, many of the creative, forward-thinking entrepreneurs who seek to start new tech businesses aren't naturally inclined to consider the regulatory implications of their new venture, especially when it comes to the heavily regulated world of medicine.
Telehealth offerings within a primary care practice can be an important tool to support coordinated care, as well as meeting the needs of patients.
Regardless of the modality, there are some common planning elements worth considering for any telehealth effort, which will be explored in this section.The initial phase of any telehealth project includes assessing needs, setting goals, and identifying the resources.
"Healthcare (and, by extension, health IT) is regulated, not just by the federal government, but by state governments as well," said Westbrook.
"Not only can state laws vary wildly, but many states have licensure laws that actually prohibit or at least hinder healthcare delivery across state lines where clinicians have not attained certain credentials or corporate structures have not been appropriately established.And the regulatory landscape regarding telehealth is continuing to change and evolve." You should also understand how to protect the telehealth technology that you put in front of patients, said Heather Alleva, a healthcare attorney also with Buchanan, Ingersoll & Rooney."Whether you are a developer of a health-related digital platform or a clinician who wants to utilize new technology with your patients, you will need to work with and contract with other parties before patients can interact with the telehealth technology," she said.The AMA Steps Forward Initiative also includes a downloadable checklist forprimary care providersLegal consultation for any telehealth contract is recommended.If the telehealth effort is connecting two health provider organizations, a particular focus Stark and anti-kickback laws (hhs.gov) is essential.Because of the popularity of the telehealth industry, experts in the medical community all agree that it will continue to grow as more companies are launched.But just how easy is it to open your own telehealth business?At the present time, 34 states and the District of Columbia require that private insurers cover telehealth consultations the same as they would cover in-person services.With the latest technology, it only requires that consumers and physicians download a health and wellness app for use on their cell phones and other electronic devices.It is also helpful to identify a start date to assist the practice with preparing for these transitions in the workflow.A "soft go-live" is helpful as this can help the team to work out unexpected kinks and receive feedback from the office on the processes in advance of the true start date (see template on page 3).