Panel Setting Bandwidth For Florida Telehealth

Oct 18, 2016

Protecting sensitive medical records from hackers, licensing out-of-state doctors, policing Medicaid fraud. Those are just a few issues Florida’s Telehealth Advisory Council is about to tackle.

Florida's Telehealth Advisory Council held its first meeting Tuesday in Jacksonville. The 15-member panel will recommend ground rules for treating patients online.

Lawmakers have been arguing over how to regulate on-line medicine for the last four years. When they couldn’t agree, they took a time-honored rout and created an advisory council instead.

At the council’s first meeting, Republican Senator Aaron Bean of Jacksonville described some of the issues that tied legislators in knots.

“Wherever side you line up on telehealth, you truly want what’s best for Floridians and best for the patients that we serve. Should it be that we know that somebody’s that licensed and regulated in the state of Florida, is that best to treat that patient, or should we go anywhere?”

The panel is a Who’s Who of the multi-billion-dollar health care industry in Florida. It includes Florida Surgeon General Celeste Philip, medical school professors, a large Medicaid provider and executives with the Mayo and Cleveland clinics.

Pensacola emergency physician Dr. Kim Landry says it’s important not to adopt rules that put online doctors at a disadvantage.

“If they were in the emergency department, you would write them for several days of a narcotic pain medication to work them through the pain process but you’re not allowed to do that through the telemedicine system in some areas and that’s not the same standard of care.”

Whether the panel can find a cure that eluded lawmakers remains to be seen. Its first recommendations to lawmakers are due December 31st.