LITTLE ROCK — A legislative panel on Tuesday signed off on a new regulation concerning telemedicine that it previously declined to review because of concerns about transparency.
The Rules and Regulations Subcommittee of the Legislative Council reviewed and approved Regulation 38, which states that a patient completing a medical history online and forwarding it to a physician is not sufficient to establish a doctor-patient relationship and does not qualify as “store-and-forward technology,” which under the state’s telemedicine law, Act 887 of 2015, is not restricted by law.
In September, the subcommittee declined to review the regulation and sent it back to the state Medical Board after New York-based telemedicine company Teladoc objected that the Medical Board had approved the language on store-and-forward technology without giving the public sufficient opportunity to comment. Medical Board attorney Kevin O’Dwyer said at the time that all transparency requirements were met.
After holding a new public-comment period, the Medical Board approved the regulation for a second time on Oct. 6. Teladoc said at the time it was satisfied that its concerns about transparency had been addressed and said it did not oppose the regulation.
The legislative Rules and Regulations Subcommittee reviewed and approved the rule Tuesday with no objections. The rule goes next to the Legislative Council on Friday.
Teladoc and similar companies cannot operate in Arkansas under their present model because of a provision in Act 887 that requires a patient to be at the site of a health-care professional to receive treatment via telemedicine — a requirement that no other state has. Teladoc has said it will lobby for a change to the law during the legislative session that begins Jan. 9.
Arkansas is ranked last in the nation in telemedicine practice standards by the American Telemedicine Association.