Arkansas was ranked last among all states in a recent report by the American Telemedicine Association on telemedicine practice standards. Earlier this year, we reported on the Arkansas Board of Medicine’s plans to remedy its ranking through the issuance of new telemedicine rules. Draft rules articulating telemedicine principles were circulated last October, and the Board recently issued proposed amendments to its regulations, specifically revising Regulation 2 and creating a new Regulation 38.
Currently, Arkansas Code 17-80-117, enacted in April 2015, and Regulation No. 2 require an initial in-person encounter to establish a valid physician-patient relationship. The new proposal revises the text of Regulation No. 2(8)(A) and (B). Proposed Regulation 38 acts as a complement to the statutory requirements. If enacted, it will allow a doctor to establish a valid relationship with a patient, without the need for an in-person exam, if the doctor “performs a face to face examination using real time audio and visual telemedicine technology that provides information at least equal to such information as would have been obtained by an in-person examination.” The doctor must also provide or arrange for the patient to receive follow-up care, when medically necessary.
The Board will hold a public hearing involving the proposed amendment to Regulation 2.8 and new Regulation 38 on Thursday, June 9, 2016 at 8:30 a.m. in Little Rock. Interested telemedicine companies and healthcare providers looking to offer telemedicine services in Arkansas should review the proposed regulations and consider submitting comments to make your voice heard regarding the changes. Important considerations remain to be discussed. For example, the proposed regulations fail to address the “originating site” restrictions included under Arkansas Code 17-80-117(a)(3),(6) and how the Board would apply that to situations where the patient is located at his or her home.
Under the proposed rules, the following requirements would apply to all services provided by physicians via telemedicine:
We will continue to monitor Arkansas for any rule changes that affect or improve telemedicine opportunities in the state.
For more information on telemedicine, telehealth, and virtual care innovations, including the team, publications, and other materials, visit Foley’s Telemedicine Practice.