New Jersey Lawmakers Greenlight Telemedicine

July 19, 2017
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New Jersey Legislature approved legislation that would authorize health care providers to provide health care via Telemedicine and Telehealth 

New Jersey doctors may no longer need to be in the same physical place as their patients in order to provide medical care. The New Jersey Legislature recently approved legislation that would authorize health care providers to remotely provide health care services to patients through the use of telemedicine and telehealth.

New Jersey Lawmakers Greenlight Telemedicine

Photo courtesy of Stocksnap.io

“The benefits of telemedicine are enormous,” Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt, who sponsored the bill, said in a statement. “It will make it quicker and easier to access treatment, drive up practices, lower costs and, most importantly, make sure patients get the treatment they need, when they need it.”

Telemedicine Trend

Telemedicine uses telecommunication and information technologies to provide clinical health care outside traditional medical facilities. Examples include writing a prescription after communicating with a patient via email, remotely monitoring vital signs, and providing mental health counseling via video conferencing. By making care more convenient and less costly, telemedicine has the potential to dramatically change the medical field.

Because it differs from traditional medical care, telemedicine raises unique liability and patient safety concerns. In response, nearly 30 states across the country have adopted statutes that expressly regulate telemedicine. Many more states are in the process of adopting such laws.

Senate Bill 291 (as adopted)

Senate Bill 291 defines “telemedicine” as the delivery of a health care service using electronic communications, information technology, or other electronic or technological means to bridge the gap between a health care provider who is located at a distant site and a patient who is located at an originating site, either with or without the assistance of an intervening health care provider. Meanwhile, “telehealth” means the use of information and communications technologies, including telephones, remote patient monitoring devices, or other electronic means, to support clinical health care, provider consultation, patient and professional health-related education, public health, health administration, and other services.

Under the proposed telemedicine regulation, treatment and consultation recommendations made through the use of telemedicine or telehealth would be subject to the same practice standards as are applicable to in-person settings. In addition, health insurance companies would be required to provide coverage and payment for services provided through telemedicine at least at the same rate as services provided in-person.

The bill also mandates that any health care provider who uses telemedicine or engages in telehealth while providing health care services to a patient must be validly licensed, certified, or registered to provide such services in the State of New Jersey; act in compliance with existing requirements regarding the maintenance of liability insurance; and remain subject to New Jersey jurisdiction if either the patient or the provider is located in New Jersey at the time services are provided.

Below are several other key provisions of the telemedicine law:

  • Health care providers using telemedicine or telehealth would be authorized to use “asynchronous store-and-forward technology” to allow for the electronic transmission of images, diagnostics, data, and medical information. 
  • Prior to treatment, a health care provider must establish a proper patient-provider relationship with the patient. Establishing this relationship includes, but is not be limited to: (1) properly identifying the patient using certain patient identifiers, including, at a minimum, the patient’s name, date of birth, phone number, address, and social security number, whenever possible; (2) disclosing and validating the provider’s identity and credentials; (3) reviewing the patient’s medical history and any available medical records; and (4) determining whether the provider will be able to provide the appropriate standard of care using telemedicine and telehealth as would be provided in an inpatient setting. Exceptions include informal consultations without compensation and emergency situations.
  • Schedule II controlled dangerous substances may be prescribed through the use of telemedicine only after the provider conducts an initial in-person examination of the patient.  Subsequent in-person visits with the patient will be required every three months for the duration of time that the patient is being prescribed the Schedule II controlled dangerous substance. 
  • Professional licensing and certification boards will be required to adopt rules and regulations, which will be applicable to the health care providers under their respective jurisdictions, in order to implement the provisions of the bill and facilitate the provision of telemedicine and telehealth services. 
  • Each telemedicine or telehealth organization operating in the State must annually register with the Department of Health (DOH) and submit an annual report to DOH in a manner as determined by the commissioner.  A telemedicine or telehealth organization that fails to register or that fails to submit the annual report will be subject to disciplinary action.

Telemedicine has the potential to benefit medical care providers and patients. We continue to track the progress of SB 291 and post updates here.

Do you have any questions? Would you like to discuss the matter further? If so, please contact me, Jeffrey Cassin, at 201-806-3364.