Maryland Makes Telehealth Easier

Last month, the Maryland Board of Physicians unveiled a number of proposed changes to its telehealth rules. Here are three likely changes that are particularly noteworthy:

Replacing the term “telemedicine” with “telehealth” – This puts the Maryland board in sync with the terminology used by many health systems and technology leaders like InTouch Health. The word “telehealth” implies a broader scope of remote services, including those offered by non-physician healthcare providers.

Licensure in Maryland only – This is a welcome change, because most states additionally require physicians to be licensed in the state where the patient is located at time of service.

Enhanced data security safeguards – The telehealth practitioner must employ adequate encryption and other measures to ensure the confidentiality and integrity of patient data. So far, there have been far fewer telehealth data breaches than those involving health insurance giants like Anthem and Maryland-based CareFirst. The latter has filed an appeal to have the U.S. Supreme Court hear its data breach case because the insurer maintains that many breach victims suffered no harm whatsoever.

When state boards freshen up their telehealth guidelines, they help shape looming legislation, both at the state and federal level. Nine states have adopted sweeping telehealth changes that take effect this year. And the U.S. Congress, which put telehealth legislation on hold during the unsuccessful bid to repeal Obamacare, recently passed telehealth provisions as part of a 2018 budget deal.