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Proposed Mississippi telemedicine rule goes temporarily offline

By   /   July 17, 2015  /   News  /   No Comments

Photo by the The University of Mississippi Medical Center'

TELEHEALTH: The University of Mississippi Medical Center’s telehealth department serves 165 sites throughout the state.

By Steve Wilson | Mississippi Watchdog

The Mississippi Board of Medical Licensure voted Thursday to withdraw a proposed regulation that would have put a serious crimp on out-of-state telemedicine companies operating in the Magnolia State.

The proposed telemedicine rule would force companies operating in Mississippi to establish a formal agreement with a Mississippi-based health-care entity and to use only secured video conferencing when medication is prescribed.

The respite is only temporary, however, as the board commissioned an economic impact statement to be completed before it decides on a final rule. The board declined comment to Mississippi Watchdog.

Telemedicine allows patients to consult with a licensed physician, either over the phone or via videoconferencing, for minor ailments. The physician can examine the patient’s records, prescribe some basic medications, such as antibiotics, or refer the patient to a local physician or hospital if needed.

Teladoc, a telemedicine companies operating in Mississippi, offered some comments on the proposed regulation. The company said in its comments that requiring physicians to establish a formal agreement with a Mississippi-based health-care entity is “unreasonably limiting” to physicians who use telemedicine.

The company says a blanket requirement for videoconferencing is “not necessary to maintain the standard of care, will limit patient access, will increase patient cost, is out of step with policies that work well in other states and finally does not give sufficient credence to the professional judgement of highly-trained, licensed physicians to determine whether video conferencing (or an in-person consultation) is appropriate and necessary.”

The University of Mississippi Medical Center in Jackson has heavily invested in telemedicine and serves 165 sites throughout the state. All UMMC sites use secure videoconferencing for consultations with patients.

Teladoc was involved in a lawsuit in Texas over regulations by that state’s medical board that resulted in a temporary injunction, which suspended a proposed telemedicine regulation preventing prescriptions through telemedicine.

Related: Mississippi board rules 89-year-old Edwards doctor can still make house calls

This is the same board that tried to take away the license of Dr. Frazier Landrum, an 89-year-old physician in Edwards; after a public outcry, the board backed down.

Related: Obamacare will punish businesses who help employees with health care

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Steve Wilson is a writer and a journalist whose work has appeared on Fox News, the Huffington Post and the Daily Signal. He serves as the Mississippi Bureau Chief for Watchdog.org. Beginning his career as a sports writer, he has worked for the Mobile Press-Register (Ala.), the LaGrange Daily News (Ga.), Highlands Today (Fla.), McComb Enterprise-Journal (Miss.), the Biloxi Sun Herald (Miss.) and the Vicksburg Post (Miss.) His bachelors degree is in journalism with a minor in political science from the University of Alabama. He served four-plus years in the United States Coast Guard after his high school graduation and is a native of Mobile, Ala.