In a recent letter addressed to House Finance Committee Chair Ryan Smith, the State of Ohio Medical Board (SOMB) objects to the amendment to the state budget bill (Substitute House Bill 64) that regulates telemedicine in the state of Ohio.
In its letter, the SOMB states that it recognizes that telemedicine is a useful tool which, when used appropriately, provides greater access to medical care for the citizens of Ohio. However, the SOMB feels that the House adopted amendment to section 4731.74 significantly expands the practice of telemedicine to the point that it does not meet the minimal standards of care established by the SOMB.
The amendment allows for a telephone consultation – without access to diagnostic medical equipment or a medical history – to establish a patient-doctor relationship, and would allow this doctor to then prescribe non-controlled substances. In addition, the requirement for diagnostic medical equipment for remote initial evaluations has been removed.
The SOMB feels that the language, as written, seems to focus more on providing access to prescription drugs, and less on providing quality medical care. In the majority of instances, the safe and effective practice of medicine requires more diagnostic information than can be gathered in a telephone call.
The SOMB would prefer to resolve this issue through its ongoing rule-making process, rather than through a statutory amendment. The Ohio Academy of Family Physicians has been involved, and continues to be involved, in the rule-making process.
The SOMB will be discussing an updated draft of Rule 4731-11-09 at its Wednesday, May 13, meeting. The SOMB has already received comments from numerous interested parties and many of these comments are reflected in the draft rule, which will then be vetted through the Common Sense Initiative and Joint Committee on Agency Rule Review processes.