Health officials are urging telehealth practitioners to think twice about using the telehealth technology to diagnose, treat or monitor health issues, as well as the potential costs and benefits.
The practice of telemedicine, also known as telehealth or telehealth management, has long been used by physicians, nurses, health-care professionals, doctors of dentistry and other professionals in the health care field.
The technology has helped reduce the cost of care and reduce patient waiting times, as telemedics also allow for quick, easy diagnosis of symptoms and treatment of conditions.
In recent years, the number of telemedical practices in the United States has more than doubled, according to the National Association of Telehealth Professionals.
The association says it expects more than 50,000 telehealth professionals will be in the U.S. by 2020.
Telehealth practitioners are required to obtain a license from the Federal Communications Commission, and the Federal Trade Commission is now weighing a proposal to impose new regulations on telehealth practices.
“The number of health-related telehealth providers in the country is growing rapidly, and they’re creating new opportunities,” said Dr. Peter Pramas, a board member of the National Telehealth Association.
“I don’t think telehealth should be regulated under the FTC or any other regulatory agency.
The FTC can’t regulate telehealth.”
Telehealth practices are not licensed under the Federal Telehealth Act, which requires telehealth operators to have a licensed provider in the field, and are not required to follow certain policies and procedures, including reporting to the FTC.
Telehealth providers must also be licensed under state licensing laws.
“I don�t think it’s appropriate for telehealth to be regulated by the FTC,” said Telehealth Board member and telehealth expert Dr. Richard L. Krantz.
“It�s a violation of the FTC Act, and it�s illegal.
Telepharmacies are regulated under state laws, and these laws are very different than the federal laws.
There are very stringent rules that apply to telehealth and it shouldn�t be.”
The FTC has been working with the telemedial industry and other telehealth industry stakeholders to develop guidelines for telepharmacy, including creating standards for telemedical centers, and creating an independent panel to review telehealth claims and investigate complaints of abuse and misuse.
“We need to be doing more to prevent this type of abuse, abuse and fraud,” said FTC Chairwoman Edith Ramirez.
“There are so many things that we�ve been working on in the telepharma space, and we�re going to be continuing to do so.”
The telehealth rules require telemedias to maintain records of patient care and quality assurance for the health- care provider.
It also requires telemedicians to ensure that the health information is accurate, complete and up-to-date.
In addition, telehealth physicians must submit reports on their services to the FDA and the National Telecommunications and Information Administration (NTIA).
Telehealth operators must follow the laws of their state and state regulatory agencies, and telemedical providers must abide by those laws.
In addition, they must comply with the provisions of the Federal Telephone Consumer Protection Act and the Telehealth Safety Act.
Telemedicines have also been used to treat health conditions like diabetes, obesity and depression.
Telemedicists can receive payments for prescribing telehealth treatments, including insulin pumps, intravenous lines and a new version of a life-saving insulin that can be dispensed through the Internet.
The FTC will also be investigating telehealth complaints filed against health-service providers, including complaints that telehealth care was used to sell insurance to people who didn�t need it, or that telemedians were charging patients for unnecessary treatments.