New regulations allowing controlled substance prescribing in Florida using telehealth services expands the telemedicine industry even further. As of March 21, 2016, Florida Administrative Code r. 64B8-9.0141 (Standards for Telemedicine Practice) was updated. The newly amended rule reads, subsection (4) Controlled substances shall not be prescribed for the use of telemedicine except for the treatment of psychiatric disorders. This provision does not preclude physicians or physician assistants from ordering controlled substances through the use of telemedicine for patients hospitalized in a facility licensed pursuant to Chapter 395, F.S. This new exemption allows for health care providers to prescribe scheduled medications as long as they are being treated for psychiatric disorders. This new amendment to the current regulations expands the uses of telemedicine, allowing providers more control over how telemedicine works.
Florida, along with other states, such as New Hampshire and Delaware has taken the initiative to pass legislation that allows healthcare providers to have more control of how their practice functions. By allowing controlled substances to be prescribed using telemedicine, services related to telehealth will be able to grow in a healthy environment. The Board had set telemedicine regulations originally in the Spring of 2014 and they reflected a flexible framework carefully designed to allow physicians to offer healthcare using newer technologies without interfering with the practice of medicine.
Florida defers to the physician’s independent medical judgment and prevailing standard of care when it comes to prescribing via telemedicine. This is fairly consistent with new rules among multiple states. This differs from the approach of imposing specific telemedicine practice standards that notably differ from in-person medical encounters.
The Board’s current telemedicine regulations were originally issued in the Spring of 2014 and reflect a flexible framework that allows physicians to offer care using new technologies without unnecessary obstacles to render care. The Legislature may pick up the bill again next year, but until then, the Board regulations represent the most current telemedicine guidance for Florida practitioners.