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Policy News

Maine Expands Telemedicine Implementation Guidelines

- Telemedicine implementation is growing across the United States with more policies and regulations being adopted in various areas that need sufficient access to healthcare services. Delaware, for instance, has expanded healthcare coverage for medical facilities that participate in telemedicine implementation.

Telehealth Technology Adoption

Maine is another state that is working toward adopting new guidelines for telemedicine implementation, according to The National Law Review. The Maine Board of Licensure in Medicine created guidelines recently that would better govern the adoption and use of telehealth technology.

These guidelines expand prior legislation in the telemedicine field. The new rulings are innovative in ways that protects patient safety and security while allowing for novel creations in the medical technology arena.

The National Law Review urges healthcare providers in Maine to read all of the guidelines in detail to better understand the regulations regarding telemedicine implementation. One issue that may be confusing is the guidelines interchangeable use of the wording “face-to-face” and “in-person,” which could potentially mean different things depending upon a provider’s use of telehealth technology.

A specific medical license is required in Maine for providers who choose to utilize telemedicine services among patients living in the state. Doctors will be expected to provide the same level of service, which includes recommendations, diagnosis, prescription, treatment, and physician interaction, regardless of whether healthcare offerings are conducted via telehealth technology or in-person.

Another important point that doctors will need to remember is that Maine’s guidelines do not require physicians to have an in-person examination with a patient before being able to treat them via telehealth technology. No established primary care physician relationship is needed when offering acute episodic care.

Remote prescribing is also given free reign based on the doctors’ discretions. The same measures, documentation and clinical decision making that’s conducted for in-person visits needs to be implemented when prescribing medication via telemedicine technology. Electronic patient records must also be held at the provider’s distant site for each patient helped through the use of telemedicine services.

“States continue to develop guidelines and policies governing the practice of telemedicine,” The National Law Review reported. “Maine’s telemedicine guidelines permit physicians using technology to provide virtual care in a broad and meaningful manner. Providers in Maine are already taking advantage of telemedicine, making quality health care more readily accessible to those living in rural areas.”

Patients from Maine must consent before being able to speak to healthcare providers via video and audio-based consultations. This includes the provision of both patient and physician identification, the kind of services offered via telehealth technology, the safety and security measures taken by the provider and vendor, patient understanding of potential transmission failure or loss of information, and patient information on emergency and after-hours contacts.

Another state that has problems with patient access to care is Minnesota where it can take several hours of travel for a consumer to see a doctor, according to the KTTC news organization. The Mayo Clinic is currently attempting a pilot program in which telemedicine implementation may help offer faster healthcare services among the patient population.

“I am amazed by this. I think it's wonderful. Of course, I love technology and was involved in technology at our schools a lot. I think it just provides so many more choices and access for people, especially in rural Minnesota,” Representative Peggy Bennett told the news source. “This allows technology and innovation in medicine where the medicine can come to us in rural Minnesota, so people don't have to take a whole day off of work to travel to Rochester or the Twin Cities or just go to their doctor. They can do it right here, and right where they are.”

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