Florida Administrative Code Regulations 64B8-9.0141 and 64B15-14.0081 governing the use of telemedicine in Florida went into effect July 22, 2014. The regulations appear to have been written in expectation that the 2014 legislature would have passed the telemedicine bill, which did not happen. We have confirmed with the Board of Medicine that the failure of the legislation will not affect the enforceability of the regulations.
Highlights of the regulations are as follows:
- “Telemedicine” is defined as “the practice of medicine by a licensed Florida physician or physician assistant where patient care, treatment, or services are provided through the use of medical information exchanged from one site to another via electronic communications. Telemedicine shall not include the provision of health care services only through an audio only telephone, email messages, text messages, facsimile transmission, U.S. Mail or other parcel service, or any combination thereof.”
- The standard of care, as defined in Section 456.50(1)(e), F.S., shall remain the same regardless of whether a Florida licensed physician or physician assistant provides health care services in person or by telemedicine.
- Florida licensed physicians and physician assistants providing health care services by telemedicine are responsible for the quality of the equipment and technology employed and are responsible for their safe use. Telemedicine equipment and technology must be able to provide, at a minimum, the same information to the physician and physician assistant which will enable them to meet or exceed the prevailing standard of care for the practice of medicine.
- Controlled substances shall not be prescribed through the use of telemedicine. This provision does not preclude physicians from ordering controlled substances through the use of telemedicine for patients hospitalized in a facility licensed pursuant to Chapter 395, F.S.
- The practice of medicine by telemedicine does not alter any obligation of the physician or the physician assistant regarding patient confidentiality or recordkeeping.
- A physician-patient relationship may be established through telemedicine.