Millions of Americans have used telehealth to their first time COVIDBut state regulations might soon take that out. While emergency regulatory suspensions have made it possible for telehealth to grow, permanent reform is needed to ensure that patients can still access care when the temporary suspensions expire.
New Report, Telehealth Best Practices Rating: A Toolkit to Assess the State Telehealth StatesPublished by Reason Foundation, Cicero Institute, Pioneer Institute. It rates the telehealth policy of each state against practices that could make these pandemic-era flexibility permanent.
Telehealth’s greatest asset is the ability to connect patients and providers from any location. Without the need to travel, patients can connect with the top doctors in the country. However, there are other options. antiquated systemTelehealth is prohibited by state licensing programs.
You don’t need much imagination to appreciate the advantages of flexible regulation. Florida is an excellent example of a state that adopted permanent reforms in 2018 and began prior to COVID.
Florida set up a registry process in 2012 that permits out-of-state providers of telehealth to operate within the state, without having to obtain a Florida-issued full license. Although the process may not be perfect, it has helped propel Florida to its current position. TopTake a look at the telehealth rankings. It is universally applicable and doesn’t require state action. There are nearly 11,200 actively registered out-of-state telehealth providers in Florida—only Arizona has a comparable program.
Florida also passed an important bill in 2020. The bill allows registered nurses with advanced practices (APRNs), to start their own independent practice. Many APRNs acted swiftly to obtain authorization. In 23 states, APRNs must work under the direction of a physician. The supervision requirements are designed to reduce the accessibility of care and limit the available primary care providers, particularly in rural areas. Since the October 2020 start of processing of applications by Florida Board of Nursing, more than 5300 APRNs have branched off to own practices.
Taylor Ann Drew is an APRN who runs a direct primary care (DPC) practice—that is, a subscription-based service for health care—in Tallahassee, Florida. Instead of relying upon traditional reimbursement models and third-party payers, patients have unlimited access to DPC providers for a monthly flat rate. There are currently More than 1600 DPC PracticesThe United States. Drew is convinced that the independence of Drew’s practice will determine its success.
Direct primary care makes it an ideal model for telehealth, as you do not have to bill. Patients pay a monthly fee and ask me as many questions as they want—it’s up to them and how they want to guide their health,” says Drew. She can text patients with questions to give them instant access to expert guidance. Patients are more likely to call the doctor when this is in place. Drew isn’t allowed to operate or own this company in many states.
Drew’s case is one example that shows how regulatory flexibility allows for new innovation. Millions of Americans may lose their access to telehealth services they’ve enjoyed throughout COVID as emergency regulatory suspensions expire. Lawmakers should make those changes permanent—and look to states like Florida for ideas for further reforms.