Michigan has a new “telehealth” law, which took effect on March 21. Though the use of electronic technology for communication between health care professionals and patients has been on the rise in recent years, Michigan law has – until now – been silent on the manner and means by which technology may be utilized in providing health care. The new law lays the foundation for regulating the use of electronic technology in connection with providing clinical health care, patient care and health care education, and it serves as the introduction of telehealth as an accepted practice in Michigan.
The new Michigan telehealth law is brief and leaves many issues open to further debate and regulation, but proponents of the law say that the practice of telehealth contains costs, helps with medical staffing shortages and increases care for patients in underserved areas. Those in opposition worry that the practice will erode the doctor/patient relationship and potentially harm patient privacy and the quality of care.
Here are some important points to note about the new law:
It applies broadly to all health professionals in Michigan, not just physicians.
Patient consent must be obtained prior to providing telehealth services.
Prescriptions, except for controlled substances, may be provided via telehealth services.
Insurers may not require face-to-face contact as a prerequisite to providing insurance coverage benefits. (They do, however, retain broad discretion to determine which telehealth services will be covered and at what payment rates.)
The new law is silent on whether a prior in-person exam is required as a prerequisite to providing telehealth services, so it is likely that more legislation on this topic will be coming.
The full text of the new telehealth law can be found here. If you have any questions about how this new law might impact you, please call our office at (248) 477-6300.