Telehealth in Florida: Where We Are and What is Next
Telehealth is being practiced in Florida every day pursuant to the standards of practice for telehealth adopted by the Board of Medicine and the Board of Osteopathic Medicine. These standards require a Florida license and provide that the standards of care shall remain the same regardless of whether healthcare services are provided in person or by telehealth. There is no shortage of licensed physicians willing to provide telehealth in Florida. Florida statute 456.47, enacted in 2019, is the governing language for the practice of telehealth in Florida. Currently, health insurance companies are not required to pay or reimburse telehealth services, they do so on a voluntary basis pursuant to Florida statutes.
Foley and Lardner LLP released a 50-State Survey of Telehealth Commercial Payer Statutes report in December 2019, predicting that, “2020 will yield more states enacting new telehealth insurance coverage and payment parity laws or amending current laws to better account for the current state of telehealth.”
The demand for telehealth services has grown rapidly in recent years as a venue of care. The American Telehealth Association (ATA) estimates that more than 50 percent of health care services will be consumed virtually by 2030.
The ATA asked consumers about their expectations of how health care should be available, 50 to 75 percent of consumers said they are willing to have digital/virtual health interactions with health care.
Closing the gap between citizen expectations and adoption of telehealth is a challenge that must be addressed.
Many states that provide telehealth services, including Florida face the same telehealth delivery and accessibility challenges. The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) released a report in 2019, produced by the Intergovernmental Advisory Committee (IAC) which focused on identifying and resolving barriers to telehealth.5 According to the IAC report, seamless telehealth delivery cannot be achieved unless broadband internet, digital readiness, and reimbursement and regulations are improved.
During a global pandemic, such as the Coronavirus, telehealth technology is needed now more than ever to protect people from contracting the virus and reducing exposure from those who are infected by going into a physician’s office.