Nov 2013

Increasing Use of Telemedicine Presents Regulatory Issues

As healthcare providers seek to lower costs and provide services in underserved areas, many are looking to technology and the growing use of telemedicine.

Telemedicine is the remote delivery of healthcare services over a telecommunications infrastructure. With the advance of technology and the introduction of services such as Skype, Tango and FaceTime, it is relatively easy to establish a simultaneous video and voice connection with an individual in a remote location. However, recent disciplinary action taken against an Oklahoma physician who engaged in telemedicine demonstrates that providers should proceed with knowledge and caution in this area.

Oklahoma Physician Disciplined for Treating Patients Via Skype

Until recently, a physician in Oklahoma used Skype to treat patients for pain management issues and prescribed powerful narcotics in the process. The physician’s nurse would travel to various satellite clinics and present the patients to him via Skype. The Oklahoma Health Care Authority, however, disciplined the physician because Skype was not an approved telemedicine communication system. The physician was placed on probation for two years and ordered to complete a course on prescribing practices.

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Michael Silhol