AcuteCare Telemedicine Blog


New Rules for Telemedicine Providers in Georgia

The Georgia Composite Medical Board (GCMB) has approved new rules (360-3-.07) for healthcare providers who are practicing telemedicine in the state.

The new rules require doctors to be licensed in the state of Georgia and, in most cases, to have either seen the patient in person or have a referral from another physician, PA or APRN who has seen the patient in person prior to providing the electronic service. The ‘‘in person’’ rule allows exceptions in cases where a patient has been referred by certain types of providers and agencies, such as public school nurses, a community mental health center, the Department of Family and Children’s Services or law enforcement. The rule also includes a broad exception to the in-person encounter requirement if the care provider ‘‘is able to examine the patient using technology and peripherals that are equal or superior to an examination done personally by a provider within that provider’s standard of care.’’

The exceptions were a departure from previous rules that were under consideration by the GCMB. As reported in the Bloomberg BNA, the original provisions offered little in the way of exceptions to the in-person rule but language was altered on the advice of the Medical Association of Georgia (MAG) and other groups. Dr. Matthews Gwynn, an Atlanta area neurologist and board secretary for MAG, told Bloomberg BNA, ‘‘As a neurologist providing care for stroke patients in emergency situations, I’ve never seen these patients before, so I said you have to have a mechanism to allow us to see these patients de novo. This version of the rules does that.’’

The new rules were also prompted, in part, as a response to a growing abuse of online prescription pain medications by unscrupulous companies selling prescriptions on demand. Georgia instituted the Prescription Drug Monitoring Program in 2013 which allows pharmacists to check to see whether patients are getting prescriptions from more than one doctor or using several pharmacies. Georgia was the second to last state to implement a system to monitor and curb what has become a significant problem all across the country. The new GCMB telemedicine rules specifically exclude the prescription and distribution of controlled substances for the treatment of pain or chronic pain by electronic means.

The GCMB rule requiring telemedicine providers to have a Georgia state license is typical of other states’ requirements. The individual state license rule is often seen as a significant barrier to the accelerated expansion of telemedicine nationwide. Consumer groups traditionally advocate for more open telemedicine policies as a way to improve access to health care for residents of rural areas across the country and in Georgia, where doctors, particularly specialists, are scarce.


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