Telemedicine, or telehealth, is the provision of medical services to a patient via telecommunication. To provide medical services to an Alabama patient via telemedicine, the physician must hold either a full license or a license to practice across state lines.
- There are currently no Alabama statutes or rules in place that specifically regulate telemedicine vs. the traditional, in-person practice of medicine. There are federal regulations (such as HIPAA, DEA regulations, third-party payors) regarding telehealth that should be discussed with your attorney.
- Physicians are held to the same standard of care irrespective of the modality of treatment. This includes rules concerning the establishment of a physician-patient relationship, the prescribing of controlled substances, general prescribing guidelines, and prescribing without having had a physical exam.
- There is no requirement for a contract with the patient before providing medical care via telemedicine.
- Physicians: Alabama full traditional license, a license via the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact, or special purpose license to practice medicine across state lines.
- Physician Assistants: Alabama license to practice as a physician assistant and approved registration to a supervising physician. Be aware that there may be certain in-person and other quality assurance requirements. See Board Rules, Chapter 540-X-7.
NOTE: In the event of a national emergency, natural disaster, or state emergency, a physician assistant may provide emergency medical treatment without immediate physician supervision or direction to patients within the affected areas of the state, provided that the treatment is within the scope of the assistant’s education, training and approved job description. The physician assistant in such circumstance shall make reasonable efforts to inform his or her supervising physician of the location and type of emergency medical services being provided and shall act in conformance with the direction of local medical supervisors. The authority granted under this paragraph shall extend only for the duration of the declared national emergency or state emergency or natural disaster.
- The Board has no rules to prohibit the prescribing of controlled substances via telemedicine; however, the provider must comply with all requirements with regard to prescription guidelines, treating chronic pain, and utilizing risk and abuse mitigation strategies. See Rules 540-X-8-.06, .08, and .09 and Chapter 540-X-19.
- DEA regulations currently require a previous in-person examination before prescribing controlled substances via telemedicine, except in a declared health emergency.