Attention New Jersey Psychiatrists: Medical Services through Telemedicine
New Jersey now explicitly authorizes healthcare professionals to provide medical services remotely via telemedicine.1 In addition, the new statute mandates New Jersey commercial health plans to reimburse telemedicine services to the same extent such services are covered by commercial health plans when rendered in-person.
Under the new law, the telemedicine services must be provided using interactive, real-time, two-way communication technology. Audio-only telephone conversations, fax, text messaging, email and instant messaging are specifically excluded from New Jersey’s definition of “telemedicine.” Please note that although providers may issue prescriptions for most medications via telemedicine, prescriptions for Schedule II controlled substances can only be written following an initial in-person examination of the patient.
Additional telemedicine requirements include:
- Establishing a proper provider-patient relationship, including, without limitation, a review of the patient’s medical history and available records and properly identifying the patient.
- Must meet the same standard of care for the patient through telemedicine services as it would if the services were rendered in-person.
- Be validly licensed, certified or registered pursuant to New Jersey state licensing statutes and regulations.
- Register with the New Jersey Department of Health (DOH) and file annual reports to the DOH that must include a description of the technology used as well as identity-protected information about the medical conditions treated, patient’s age/gender and whether any prescriptions were issued.
- Comply with all applicable record-keeping laws and regulations, including confidentiality and maintaining a complete record of services rendered.
- After completion of the telemedicine consultation, ensure that the patient’s medical information is available to the patient and send that information to the patient’s primary care physician or other provider, upon the patient’s affirmative consent.
Please consult your risk management professional or local attorney with any additional questions you may have pertaining to New Jersey’s new telemedicine law.
HHS Office for Civil Rights Issues Guidance on How HIPAA Allows Information Sharing to Address the Opioid Crisis
The Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights has released new HIPAA guidance regarding when and how healthcare providers can share a patient’s health information with his or her family members, friends and legal representative when a patient is in crisis.
Currently, HIPAA regulations allow healthcare providers to share information with a patient’s loved ones in certain emergency or dangerous situations. This includes informing persons in a position to prevent or lessen a serious and imminent threat to a patient’s health or safety. Misunderstandings about HIPAA can create obstacles to family support that is crucial to the proper care and treatment of people experiencing a crisis, such as an opioid overdose. It is critical for healthcare providers to understand when and how they can share information with patients’ family members and friends without violating the HIPAA Privacy Rule. Please note that additional state or other federal privacy laws may also apply. HIPAA does not interfere with state laws or medical ethics rules that are more protective of patient privacy. For more information, visit https://www.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/hipaa-opioid-crisis.pdf
1 NJSA, Title 45, Professions and Occupations, Chapter 1, Article 6