Trending in Telehealth: Behavioral Health Services

Law360

Amy Lerman, a Member of the Firm in the Health Care and Life Sciences practice, in the firm’s Washington, DC, office, authored an article in Law360, titled “Trending in Telehealth: Behavioral Health Services.” (Read the full version – subscription required.)

Following is an excerpt:

Consumer demand for and access to telebehavioral health services continues to trend upward as increasing numbers of health care professionals become more and more interested in using telehealth platforms to connect with their patients. According to the American Psychiatric Association (APA), “telepsychiatry — in the form of live interactive videoconferencing — has become a core tool of daily clinical practice.”

Continued proliferation of telehealth more generally provides an important backdrop for this trend. On a nearly nationwide basis, states have laid out a fairly comprehensive regulatory framework within which telehealth providers can operate. Since 2016, states have attempted to address key regulatory questions posed by telehealth/telemedicine industry stakeholders regarding issues such as establishing physician-patient relationships and remote prescribing. For example, in just this past year, a number of states (e.g., Arkansas, Hawaii, Indiana, Louisiana and Maine) have established regulations that will allow physician-patient relationships to be established via real-time audio and visual telehealth technologies. Another major accelerant toward continued increases in the utilization of telehealth services has been the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact (IMLC), which began issuing letters of qualification starting in April 2017. Physicians in IMLC states (currently, 22 states) now have an expedited process for obtaining licenses to practice in multiple states. The intent behind the IMLC is to encourage states to put in place regulatory frameworks that will increase interstate delivery of telehealth services, thereby increasing payor coverage of such services (including behavioral health services) in states that may lack access to such services. …

With states continuing to legislate actively in all of these areas, counsel to telebehavioral health providers will be best equipped by following the legislative trends, to have an awareness of the issues being legislated and (generally) how states are deciding to regulate in these important areas.