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Health Care

Fulbright & Jaworski : "Telemedicine Amidst Healthcare Reform: Avoiding Legal Pitfalls"

By Mark Anthony Kadzielski, Kristina Pervi Ayers and Jee-Young Kim

The United States Supreme Court's recent decision upholding the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act underscores the need to deliver and make accessible quality healthcare to patients throughout the United States in an efficient and cost-effective manner. This brings both telemedicine and the credentialing and privileging of telemedicine practitioners to the forefront of the affordable healthcare discussion.

A year ago, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) enacted its rule on telemedicine credentialing and privileging. The rule gives healthcare facilities more flexibility in credentialing and privileging telemedicine practitioners by eliminating the need for an independent review. Despite the rule's obvious practicalities, healthcare facilities must take steps, from revising medical staff bylaws to creating new policies and written agreements, to avoid legal pitfalls and effectively minimize liability risks, protect patient privacy and ensure quality of care.

This program covered the requirements of the CMS rule, its interplay with The Joint Commission's telemedicine standards and practical tips to ensure compliance. We will also address current practices in telemedicine, including consent issues, that do not implicate the CMS rule but require equal attention for effective implementation.

The seminar provides guidance on these and other critical questions:

  • How has the CMS rule changed telemedicine credentialing and privileging?
  • What should be included in the written agreement between a healthcare facility and a telemedicine provider?
  • As healthcare facilities increase their reliance on telemedicine technologies and services, what precautions, standards and policies should they adopt to mitigate liability risks?