Dr. Weeks’ Comment: It is long been abusive for the doctor (acting at the behest of the medical boards) to insist on the patient being present in the office to discuss everything from lab results to future strategies. With the freedom which technology affords us today, that is wasteful and abusive. What is not safe, in my opinion, is email correspondence because this created too many opportunities to have information be lost, emails not read or concepts misunderstood. Telemedicine, which involves real-time communication (Skype or telephone calls) offers convenience to the patient and thorough effective communication to the doctor. Bravo to the state of Arkansas to propose bring the practice of medicine into the 21st century. And shame on the state of Texas to refuse this service to patients harassing as they have telemedicine for the past 3 years.
Arkansas Medical Board Proposes to Relax State Telemedicine Laws
Last month, the Arkansas State Medical Board’s Telemedicine Advisory Committee indicated that it was in the process of drafting a rule that would allow establishment of a physician-patient relationship through the use of real-time audiovisual communication rather than an in-person visit. This is a significant development given that the Arkansas telemedicine rules are among the most restrictive in the nation and signals that physicians in Arkansas are prepared to embrace telemedicine as a safe and cost-effective way to provide medical services to patients.
The Committee’s proposed rule follows on the heels of a telemedicine statute enacted by the Arkansas Legislature in April. The Telemedicine Act requires that telemedicine providers (i) are licensed in Arkansas (except for episodic consultation services), and (ii) have an existing professional relationship with the patient based on a prior in-person examination (except for certain consultations and cross-coverage arrangements with the patient’s regular provider). The Act includes a provision allowing the Arkansas State Medical Board to broaden the definition of telemedicine and the circumstances under which telemedicine can be used.
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