Arkansas telemedicine bill aims to reduce restrictions on digital health

Arkansas legislators have managed to advance their case that aims to ease telemedicine restrictions in the state. Their latest victory came in the form of The State Senate Public Health, Welfare and Labor Committee, which voted in favor of recommending passing of Senate Bill 146. This bill was authored by committee chairperson Sen. Cecile Bledsoe with a goal of proposing changes to Arkansas’s 2015 telemedicine bill with requirements that are needed to be met for the establishment of doctor-patient relationships.  After this vote, Senate Bill 146 moves to the full Senate.

 

According to the current Arkansas law, health care professionals must first establish a professional relationship with the patient in a very specific ways before they are allowed to start using telemedicine services such. The requirements are that they must first meet in person, or establish an audio or video communication when the patient is placing the call from the designated “originating site” that is licensed health care facility. Senate Bill 146 proposes that the requirement of the “originating site” be changed, enabling patients to establish a relationship with healthcare workers no matter from where the call is placed. The bill also strives to expand the law definition of what is considered as telemedicine service, including the depiction of all possible types electronic information and communication technology that patients and healthcare workers may use during telemedicine sessions. Also, the bill proposes that telemedicine visits should be covered by the current health insurance plans using the same procedures and rates as health services that are provided in person.

 

“You’re writing a law that’s going to go in the statute that doesn’t even say anything about the parent or the guardian giving consent,”

said KUAF reported Democratic Senator Stephanie Flowers.

“Some parents object to some things, procedures that might go against their religious beliefs. I think the parent certainly ought to be mentioned.”

 

 

Even though the pace of the adoption of new telemedicine-friendly laws in Arkansas is not progressing with the fast pace, some movement can be noticed. In late 2016, state’s Medical Board unanimously accepted new requirements which govern how doctors may examine patients using telemedicine services, and earlier before that, state also adopted one rule that expanded the capabilities of telehealth services. This development in Arkansas attracted praise of American Telemedicine Association which openly praised  Arkansas Board of Medicine.

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