AN ACT ESTABLISHING A TELEMEDICINE POLICY FOR THE STATE OF NORTH CAROLINA AND DIRECTING THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES TO STUDY AND REPORT RECOMMENDATIONS FOR VARIOUS TELEMEDICINE STANDARDS, AS RECOMMENDED BY THE JOINT LEGISLATIVE OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE ON HEALTH AND HUMAN SERVICES.
Identical to H 967, filed 5/17/18.
Enacts new Article 1L, North Carolina Telemedicine Practice Act, in GS Chapter 90. Defines terms used in the act, including telemedicine or telehealth, as the use of electronic information and telecommunication technologies to support and promote long-distance clinical health care, patient and professional health-related education, public health, and health administration, excluding the provision of healthcare services through audio-only telephone or teleconference, email, or facsimile.
Allows NC licensed healthcare providers to provide healthcare services that are consistent with the provider’s licensed scope of practice via telemedicine to individuals located in the state. Requires the healthcare provider to obtain written or verbal informed consent from the patient before providing care via telemedicine. Sets out conditions that must be satisfied for informed consent.
Requires covered entities and business associates engaged in telemedicine to comply with federal and State laws and regulations to secure protected health information. Requires, before engaging in telemedicine or handling protected health information obtained through telemedicine, that the healthcare provider, covered entity, or business associate conduct risk analyses and install safeguards to ensure secure handling of protected health information.
Specifies that those engaged in telemedicine are responsible for ensuring that health care delivered to patients adheres to the same standard of care applicable to in-person patients. Sets out four additional requirements as part of the standard of care for delivering care via telemedicine, including a prohibition on prescribing a controlled substance for the treatment of pain unless the provider has, within the last twelve months, conducted an in-person physical exam of the patient for the condition causing pain for which the prescription is sought.
Requires the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), by September 1, 2019, to study and report to the Joint Legislative Oversight Committee on Health and Human Services on the following four topics. First, recommendations for telemedicine reimbursement standards for private health benefit plans. Requires DHHS to solicit input from stakeholders and consider six issues, including the health benefit plan reimbursement standards of other states and the results of those standards on cost and access to care, specific telemedicine modalities for which health benefit plans should be required to provide reimbursement, and how to best encourage market competition and ensure private health benefit plans retain flexibility to realize efficiencies. Second, recommendations for a plan to ensure that all North Carolina residents have sufficiently advanced internet connectivity to receive healthcare via telemedicine. Requires DHHS to solicit input from stakeholders and requires DHHS to consider four issues, including the best way to incentivize investment in next-generation, future-proof broadband infrastructure and reduce barriers to deployment of that infrastructure. Third, recommended performance metrics to be used by DHHS in assessing the quality of telemedicine services. Requires DHHS to consult with the North Carolina Institute of Medicine and the North Carolina Medical Board. Encourages DHHS to examine specified reports and guidelines. This report must also be submitted to the Fiscal Research Division. Finally, recommended State licensing standards, credentialing processes and prescribing standards for telemedicine. The report must include proposals and recommendations related to Medicaid and participating in the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact.