Amy Lerman, Member of the Firm in the Health Care & Life Sciences practice, in the firm’s Washington, DC, office, was quoted in mHealthIntelligence, in “States Lead the Way in Adapting Telehealth to Meet Mental Health Needs,” by Eric Wicklund.

Following is an excerpt:

Faced with a nationwide opioid abuse crisis and a surge of people needing mental health services, states are moving to embrace telehealth as a means of expanding access to treatment. But the path to better care is still bumpy.

State adoption of telemental health guidelines “is obviously continuing to grow, (and) trending in the right direction,” says Amy Lerman, a member of the Epstein Becker Green law firm who specializes in telehealth and telemedicine law. “But every state has its own set of rules.”

Lerman, the lead author of Epstein Becker Green’s fourth annual Telemental Health Laws Survey, which was released last October, says there was little state guidance in telehealth for mental and behavioral health services four years ago. Few providers were using connected health platforms, and state medical boards weren’t feeling the pressure to develop guidelines.

But all that has changed, she said during a recent episode of Healthcare Strategies, the Xtelligent Healthcare Media podcast series. Now, with the opioid abuse crisis and a nationwide mental health crisis, there’s a real demand for those services,

“In an effort to solve the problem, states are trying to be very creative, very flexible,” she says.

The challenge with behavioral health is that there are so many different types of care providers who could potentially use telehealth to deliver care, starting with psychiatrists and psychologists but also including therapists, counselors and social workers.

State professional boards “have taken notice of the fact that providers who hold the licenses in these states would like to have guidance,” Lerman says. But there’s limited guidance from the federal ranks, and restrictions on everything from prescribing controlled substances to the designation of the patient’s home as a telehealth site.

“Prescribing is, I think, from a lot of professional standpoints, a necessary component that they want to be able to enhance that care experience – they want to be able to do it,” Lerman says, but they’re hamstrung by US Drug Enforcement Agency rules that limit the use of telemedicine to prescribe controlled substances. Congress and the DEA are moving toward easing those rules, she says, but that hasn’t happened yet.

Related reading:

January 27, 2020: Amy Lerman Featured in mHealthIntelligence Podcast: “Using Telehealth to Address the Nation’s Mental Health Crisis,” by Eric Wicklund.


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