Georgia Telemedicine Policy

Telemedicine in Georgia: Policies

Like many other U.S. states, Georgia is on the road to better coverage for telemedicine. Georgia has a telemedicine parity law in place, which requires private payers to cover telemedicine services. Georgia’s Medicaid program also covers a wide range of medical services delivered via live-video.

However, there’s still room for Georgia to grow! Similar to Medicare’s telemedicine regulations, Georgia Medicaid places some restrictions on the location of patient and provider at the time of the telemedicine visit. Georgia also does not cover other forms of telemedicine, like store-and-forward or remote patient monitoring solutions.

Georgia law views telemedicine and telehealth as separate, although similar terms. The main differences stem from the purpose of remote doctor-patient communication and the way in which remote medical care is delivered.

Telemedicine — Under Georgia Telehealth Law, Telemedicine is considered the delivery of clinical healthcare services by utilizing two-way audio and video, or other electronic and telecommunication technologies. The law explicitly excludes telephone doctor-patient consultations and facsimile transmission from the definition.

The purpose of telemedicine, as defined by law, is assessment, diagnosis, consultation, treatment, education, and exchange of medical information. Georgia Telehealth law also forbids the discrimination between urban and rural areas and states that medical professionals — licensed in the state and working within their scope of practice — can offer telemedicine services to patients in Georgia, without face-to-face contact.

There is no reference regarding consent for telemedicine in the Telehealth Law. That said, the strong emphasis on removing the in-person requirement implies that providers can establish a valid doctor-patient via telemedicine.

Telehealth — The 2019 Senate Bill 118 made several amendments to the Georgia Telehealth Law. The Bill introduced the term “telehealth” with the purpose of expanding the utilization of remote healthcare services. The law now recognizes telehealth as the use of information and telecommunication technologies — including phones and remote patient monitoring — to facilitate:

  • Clinical healthcare
  • Consultations with medical professionals
  • Health-related education
  • Health administration

Although both types of medical services are delivered remotely, the difference is in intent — telemedicine helps providers diagnose and treat patients through live audio-video communication, while telehealth enables other forms of communication that aid in-person clinical care.

Practice Through Electronic or Other Such Means

In 2014, the Georgia Composite Medical Board issued a regulation called Practice Through Electronic or Other Such Means with the purpose of establishing standards of practice the providers will be held to when delivering remote healthcare services.

What’s particularly interesting regarding the Board’s prescribed standards is that the regulation explicitly states that all remote treatment and/or consultation must be done by:

  • Licensed physicians
  • Physician assistants
  • Advanced practice registered nurses (APRNs)

This severely limited the utilization of telemedicine and telehealth in the state, but it was not long-lived. The SB 115, passed in 2019, corrected this narrow view by stating that any person who delivers remote healthcare services will be subject to regulation by the Board. 

Looking at Georgia’s law chronologically, the Telehealth Law of 2005 didn’t provide any reference regarding who can practice telemedicine in the state. In 2014, the Board sought to provide clearly defined standards of practice and, in doing so, provided an extremely narrow list of eligible providers. This hindered the use of telemedicine and telehealth in Georgia, so legislators introduced SB 155 five years later that explicitly states that all medical professionals licensed in Georgia can offer remote health care services to patients in the state.

Online prescriptions

When it comes to issuing prescriptions following a telemedicine or telehealth visit, the Board prohibits prescription of controlled substances and dangerous drugs. That said, telemedicine practitioners in Georgia can prescribe over-the-counter medication and non-controlled substances, without having to meet the patient face-to-face.

Intestate telemedicine license

Another thing the SB 115 introduced was the possibility for out-of-state medical professionals to leverage telemedicine to provide remote healthcare services to patients in Georgia.

Following the Bill, Georgia joined the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact, making it even easier for out-of-state telemedicine practitioners to obtain a license to offer remote healthcare to patients in the state.

Georgia Medicaid

Georgia Medicaid defines telemedicine as using two-way, real-time video to exchange patient medical information between two sites. 

Medicaid’s definition is somewhat misleading, given that it explicitly states telemedicine involves “the exchange of patient information,” yet only through live video. The wording makes Medicaid’s telemedicine definition a bit convoluted, so we’ll simplify it:

Medicaid will only reimburse for live video visits, and will not reimburse for store-and-forward technology, remote patient monitoring, phone, and email consultations.

Georgia Telemedicine Policy Adopted Telemedicine Rule

State Policy Overview

  • Medicaid
  • Private Payers
  • Parity