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Governor Christie Signs New Jersey Telemedicine Legislation

Governor Christie Signs New Jersey Telemedicine Legislation

On July 21, Governor Christie signed legislation paving the way for doctors to consult with patients remotely.  The New Jersey State Senate and Assembly unanimously approved bills S.291 and A.1464; respectively, as a strong show of support for the telemedicine legislation.

As a result of this new legislation, patients can now establish relationships with doctors on a remote basis thus eliminating the need for a face-to-face consultation.  The new legislation does, however, provide for an exception in cases where “controlled substances” are being prescribed.  The law is very specific as to the medium used to conduct consultations.  The telemedicine platform must use an active real-time two-way communication technology and is not permitted to be audio only or based solely on fax, telephone, email or text messaging.  Electronic transmission of data is allowed without video capability so long as after reviewing the patient records, the physician determines that the same standard of care can be provided as an in-person consultation.

Any provider of telemedicine must be licensed in New Jersey and follow all applicable laws and legislation including malpractice insurance requirements.  A health care practitioner can engage in consultations with an out-of-state peer professional using electronic or other means, and will not have to obtain an additional license or special authorization.  The Interstate Medical Licensure Compact (‘the Compact’) allows for expedited reciprocity for physicians to practice in other states. New Jersey has not joined the Compact.

NJ Family Care programs, state Medicaid, private and public insurance plans will be required to reimburse doctors utilizing telemedicine at the same rate as in-person visits.  Naturally, many insurers were against this provision arguing that the market should dictate the reimbursement rates.  Only seven other states require reimbursement for telemedicine at the same rate as an in-person visit.

A seven-member Telemedicine and Telehealth Review Commission (“the Commission”) will be established within six months of this new law.  The Commission will review the information reported by registered telemedicine and telehealth providers and make recommendations to improve the delivery of telemedicine.

Telemedicine can provide many benefits including increased accessibility, efficiency in delivering care to patients, and lower costs.  New Jersey was late in adopting telemedicine.  How the legislation will affect the delivery, effectiveness, and cost of healthcare will be seen as the health care profession begins to follow this legislation.

Withum is assessing the impact this will have with providing patient care and everyday operations. We’re looking at it holistically and investigating the following:

  • What will the compliance reporting expectations be with all the players (i.e. NJ Dept. of Health, insurance payors, patients)?
  • How secure is the network to transmit data and interactions via a patient portal?
  • How secure is the medical equipment at the patient’s home?
  • How must your internal governance and education programs change?

More to follow in a future communication. For any questions, please reach out to our telemedicine team at healthcare@withum.com.

 

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