Tennessee Telemedicine Policy

Telemedicine in Tennessee: Policies

Tennessee’s updated 2016 telehealth parity law requires reimbursement for telehealth under private payers, Medicaid and state employee plans at comparable rates to in-person care.

In turn, Tennessee doesn’t have strict limitations on prescribing or patient setting, which is great news for telemedicine providers. Check out our comprehensive guide to Tennessee’s telemedicine policy!

Telemedicine in Tennessee: Rules and Regulations

Most of the limitations regarding telemedicine practice in Tennessee were removed with the update of the parity law in 2016. The practitioners from the Volunteer State got the chance to expand their scope of work in terms of geographic locations and the types of services they provide.

Private payers, health plan users, and Medicaid cover for telemedicine services in the same way they do for traditional practice in Tennessee as of 2016. Reimbursement is one of the crucial elements for the development of remote care, and the officials realized that on time.

With the COVID-19 pandemic, the benefits of telehealth are becoming evident. The U.S. healthcare system is proving to be inefficient, even though enormous funds are pouring into it every year. The need for remodeling is long overdue. Some states were conservative in their approach to telemedicine, and they are now struggling to provide for all the patients during the national health crisis.

Who Can Practice Telemedicine in Tennessee?

According to the TBME, the location of the patient, aka the originating site, is where the virtual visit is happening. This means that the providers offering telemedicine services to Tennesseeans must have a valid medical license for the Volunteer State.

If a practitioner is based in Tennessee, and they treat patients from other states, they must have a medical permit valid in the patient’s location. There are several exceptions to this rule:

  • A physician licensed in a different state may consult with a licensed Tennessee healthcare provider on specific clinical or scientific matters
  • Unlicensed practitioners may participate in the treatment by advising the licensed provider without compensation
  • Physicians may offer their expertise regarding rare or orphan diseases to research hospitals with compensation

The cross-state licensing became easier when Tennessee joined the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact (IMLC). This program allows for the faster procedure in obtaining the required permits for telemedicine. IMLC is vital for increasing accessibility to specialist care and for broadening the telehealth network nationwide.

How to Establish a Doctor-Patient Relationship?

It is not mandatory to have an in-person encounter for establishing a valid doctor-patient relationship in the State of Tennessee. The definition states that interactive video conference, or at least store-and-forward technology, must be used during the visit. In the case of store-and-forward, all the relevant medical information must be forwarded to the practitioner.

TBME will consider the relationship appropriate if the following happens upon the first encounter:

  • The patient discloses all the relevant medical information via real-time video call or at least store-and-forward technology
  • The practitioner verifies the identity and the location of the patient
  • The physician provides their name, credentials, and current practice location
  • The patient provides informed consent, permitting the treatment in full knowledge of the capabilities and the limitations

The practitioner is responsible for informing the patient about the details of the technology being used for telehealth. This includes data security and privacy protection. They should also provide information about emergency backup plans, in case telemedicine services do not suffice in providing the appropriate standard of care.

Telehealth providers may request assistance from other medical professionals regarding the treatment, but they should do so only with the permission of the patient. If the medical data or telemedicine tools are not enough for proper diagnosis or treatment of the patient, the doctor should advise on a more appropriate course of action.

Is It Possible to Prescribe Medication via Telehealth?

The Tennessee Board allows the practitioners to prescribe medication online without the in-person contact. It advises that integrating with e-Prescription System is an excellent way to ensure the patient’s safety and avoid errors.

Since telehealth providers must adhere to the same standards of traditional practice, every practitioner should do the following before prescribing medication:

  1. Perform an adequate physical examination
  2. Go through the patient medical history
  3. Make a diagnosis based on the examination and necessary diagnostic and laboratory tests
  4. Come up with a treatment plan and explain it to the patient, disclosing all risks and benefits to the patient
  5. Ensure the availability of the appropriate follow-up care

If during the evaluation, the physician determines that the patient should receive medication, they are allowed to prescribe them via telehealth. The restrictions apply to prescription of controlled substances for chronic pain treatment because telemedicine is not an appropriate service for this condition.

The federal law prohibits prescribing certain substances through telehealth and requires an in-person visit. Providers should inform themselves about and act in accordance with federal legislation.

State Policy Overview

  • Medicaid
  • Private Payers
  • Parity