Louisiana's LPC Board of Examiners has enacted their Teletherapy Guidelines for Licensees, which requires telemental health training prior to licensees providing teletherapy. The new regulation is clear, helpful, and resonable to comply with.
In January, 2019 the International Society for Telemedicine & eHealth published an article by Nathaniel Lacktman, Esq. and Dr. Neil Nerwich entitled, “Teleconsultation Services for the Mobile Workforce- Considerations and Guidelines for the Provision of Global Services in Compliance with Regulations and Best Practice Clinical Standards of Care.” The International Society for Telemedicine & EHealth (ISfTeH), founded in 2011, is a “nongovernmental and not-for-profit society that services primarily as the umbrella association for national Telemedicine and eHealth organizations,” advising on international standards and best practices for telemedicine.
As of December 2018, the Federal Communication Commission (FCC) has adopted an official ruling that text messages will be considered an informational service (such as emails) versus a telecommunication service (such as telephone calls). Click here for the ruling. This distinction is highly relevant, as communications classified as “telecommunication services” must be transmitted by cellular carriers and are not permitted to be blocked or altered whereas informational services can be.
As text messaging has grown in popularity over the last decade, texts have carried an ambiguous status; this ambiguity has allowed cellular carriers to make independent decisions regarding transmission, with many carriers defaulting to handle texts as informational services. For the December ruling, the FCC took into consideration that cellular providers have already been filtering text messages (in an effort to minimize spam) and that allowing all texts to go through could burden consumers.
In Opinion 19-02, the Office of Inspector General declares its support o allowing drug manufacturers to temporary loan smartphones to low-income patients who are prescribed antipsychotic digital medications. A sensor is embedded in the medication, and once taken, transmits a signal to a patch worn by the patient. The patch records ingestion of medication, rest and activity levels, and uploads the data to a smartphone app via Bluetooth. The patient has the ability to add more detailed information (moods, sleep quality) to the app, and then the app syncs with secure, cloud-based data banks.
Telehealth is a constantly evolving mode of healthcare and there are numerous aspects of the field in need of clarification so that statutes, policies and practices follow the same guidelines. Telehealth is not a type of health care, rather it is the manner in which care is given. And as the standards for that care become more defined and the use of this mode more prevalent, so will the need for caregivers who are adequately trained and licensed to deliver telehealth.
In 2016, the State of Florida created the Telehealth Advisory Council in order to survey, research and recommend changes to telehealth in order to better serve those living in the state. The increase in both access and use of telehealth will also require an increase in health care practitioners offering telehealth services.
Vendor Management and Video Chatting Clients
HIPAA compliance for telebehavioral health professionals is essential to running your business in the digital age.
According to HIPAA regulation, telebehavioral health professionals must be fully HIPAA compliant in order to avoid serious violations and government fines.
BA and Vendor Management
One of the most common mistakes health care professionals can make is improper vendor management. The HIPAA rules here affect telebehavioral health professionals in particular because of the electronic and digital mediums by which care is given.
Collaboration at its best! Two years ago, NASW partnered with ASWB, CSWE, and CSWA. They created the Task Force for Technology Standards in Social Work Practice which produced a thorough set of standards on the use of technology in the practice of social work. In 2016 the task force released a draft to the public for comments. After careful review of the comments received and many other sources of best practices, they released the NASW, ASWB, CSWE, & CSWA Standards for Technology in Social Work Practice.
When great clinicians have great information to share they want to share it LOUD, and help as many people as they can. With the internet, we can easily share our helpful and powerful information to anyone who needs it. Due to only being able to practice healthcare within the state’s in which a clinician is licensed, some may be tempted to label their services as psychoeducation rather than psychotherapy. Most clinicians may not even be trying to “get away” with practicing across state lines (interstate counseling) without being licensed in all states, but truly be wanting to solely provide psychoeducation.
The results are coming in from the Georgia Telemental Health Rule. Should other states follow suit?
Georgia requires that Social Workers, Marriage and Family Therapists, and Licensed Professional Counselors, who provide telemental health services, attend at least a 6 hour CE training on telemental health counseling. Clinical supervisors are required to take an additional 3 CE hour course on how to supervise telemental health counseling.