Following Regulations for Telehealth
by Donna Koger, 5.28.16
As you learned in our first article on Telehealth, the term “telepsychotherapy” is used to describe the use of Telehealth methods to deliver psychotherapeutic services. If you are practicing telepsychotherapy, whether in your state or another, there are rules you must be aware of and follow.
Practicing Telepsychotherapy in your own State
Most psychologists are familiar with services over telephone, whether gathering intake client information, handling crises, etc. The initial contact with a patient is the “beginning of the professional relationship.”
Conducting an entire span of psychotherapy over the phone is, however, relatively new. The increased availability of videoconferencing alone provides a wider range of possibilities for remote psychotherapy.
When practicing telepsychotherapy in your home state, it is important to check with the appropriate local authority if the rules of practice allow for this type of remote activity.
Practicing Telepsychotherapy across State Lines
Practitioners are already aware of state regulations and licensing boards differing from state to state. Some states allow limited out-of-state practice without specific licensing, others prohibit such practice. Licensing boards can also claim the regulatory authority for telepsychotherapy is determined not by the psychologist’s physical location but where the client is at the time of the therapy session.
Therapists who provide telepsychotherapy in other states must check whether that state allows for this activity. According to SAP, the American Psychological Association (APA) has developed a chart that “summarizes a 50 state review describing temporary and guest licensure.” The list is available on the APA website. Along with this list, however, it is strongly recommended you still check with the specific state(s) where you are practicing remotely.
Make Your Compliance Official
One easy way to ensure that you're following applicable laws, regulations, and guidelines is to complete a telehealth training course. "The continued development of telemedicine--and the assurance of quality, accessible healthcare into the future--relies on training a skilled, competent workforce.
Providing clinicians, administrators and engineers with a skill set in telemedicine ensures that our healthcare system best utilizes the available remote healthcare technologies." Check out Accredited Training Programs from the American Telemedicine Association.
Donna Koger is currently the HIPAA Compliance Officer and materials developer for software training and support at Smoky Mountain Information Systems, home of PIMSY EHR. Ms. Koger is also a regular contributor to the PIMSY EHR Blog.