Last month, the Wisconsin Medical Examining Board gave the green light on fresh rules governing the practice of telemedicine in the state. The rules are supposed to be an improvement on an initial set of rules proposed in 2015. A number of concerns were addressed in the new rules, some of which relate to physician licensing and medical liability.
Among the provisions included in the new rules is the requirement that a physician who treats a Wisconsin patient by telemedicine must be licensed to practice in the state of Wisconsin. The new rules define telemedicine as the practice of medicine by means of electronic communications which enable the physician to meet or exceed the minimum standard of competent medical practice.This excludes certain forms of communication which don’t allow for full exchange of information. The new rules also make it clear that physicians must use high quality, safe technology and equipment in the practice telemedicine.
As with licensing, physicians practicing telemedicine are held to the same standards of practice and ethical conduct as physicians practicing traditional medicine, including the rules regarding patient confidentiality and recordkeeping.
The rules make it clear that a physician-patient relationship can be established by electronic communications, but establish certain requirements before diagnosis and prescription may be made. These include: Wisconsin licensure; provision of the physician’s name and contact information; informed consent; performance and documentation of a patient evaluation; and preparation and maintenance of patient health care records. The rules require that physicians base treatment on more than just an electronic questionnaire, which requires getting to know the patient better.
In our next post, we’ll continue looking at these new rules, particularly with respect to the issue of medical malpractice and physician discipline.