Tenn. Comp. R. & Regs. 0880-02-.16 - TELEMEDICINE LICENSURE AND THE PRACTICE OF TELEMEDICINE

Current through March 20, 2022

No person shall engage in the practice of medicine, either in person or remotely using information transmitted electronically or through other means, on a patient within the state of Tennessee unless duly licensed by the Board in accordance with the provisions of the current statutes and rules. Unless specifically set out in this rule, this rule is not intended to and does not supersede any pre-existing federal or state statutes or rules and is not meant to alter or amend the applicable standard of care in any particular field of medicine or to amend any requirement for the establishment of a physician-patient relationship.

(1) Definitions -
(a) Facilitator - The facilitator is an individual often affiliated with a local system of care or a parent or legal guardian of the patient. The facilitator must be physically present with the patient and is responsible for verifying the identity and location of the patient and for the origination, collection and transmission of data in the form of images or clinical data to the physician performing the evaluation remotely.
(b) Medical interpretation - The performance of a medical interpretation by a physician is the rendering of a diagnosis regarding a particular patient by examination of radiologic imaging studies, tissue specimens, bodily fluid specimens (including, but not limited to urine, blood and cerebrospinal fluid) or medical records requested by another physician or licensed health care provider.
(c) Patient encounter - The rendering of a documented medical opinion concerning evaluation, diagnosis, and/or treatment of a patient whether the physician is physically present in the same room, in a remote location within the state or across state lines.
(d) Physician-patient relationship - A physician-patient relationship exists when a physician serves a patient's medical needs whether or not there has been an encounter in person between the physician and patient.
(e) Research hospital - A hospital at which fifty percent (50%) or more of the inpatients treated during the previous calendar year were treated pursuant to research protocols.
(f) Store-and-forward technology - The use of asynchronous electronic communications between a patient and healthcare services provider at a distant site for the purpose of diagnostic and therapeutic assistance in the care of patients and includes the transferring of medical data from one site to another through the use of a device that records or stores images that are sent or forwarded via electronic communication to another site for consultation.
(g) Telemedicine - Telemedicine is the practice of medicine using electronic communication, information technology or other means, between a licensee in one location and a patient in another location. Telemedicine is not an audio only telephone conversation, email/instant messaging conversation or fax. It typically involves the application of secure video conferencing or store-and-forward to provide or support healthcare delivery by replicating the interaction of a traditional encounter between a provider and a patient.
(2) Telemedicine Licenses Issued Under Previous Rule - As of the effective date of this rule, the Board will no longer issue what was previously termed a "telemedicine license." Individuals previously granted a telemedicine license under the former version of this rule may apply to have the license converted to a full license. Such individuals must complete the application for a full license and provide all necessary documentation, though no new application fee will be required as long as application is made within two years of the effective date of this rule. Individuals who do not convert to a full license (or do not qualify for full licensure) will retain the telemedicine license subject to the following conditions:
(a) The license must be timely renewed on a biennial basis, as required pursuant to Rule 0880-02-.09. Notwithstanding Rule 0880-02-.09, however, licenses not timely renewed will not be subject to re-instatement and affected individuals wishing to engage in the practice of medicine on patients located in Tennessee will be required to make application for a full license, including payment of the application fee.
(b) Telemedicine license holders must maintain current ABMS specialty board-certification. Licensees who do not maintain ABMS specialty board-certification will not be entitled to renewal of the license.
(c) Licensees retaining a telemedicine license are limited to the provision of medical interpretation services in the area of their specialty board-certification. Such license holders do not possess prescriptive authority in Tennessee.
(d) All telemedicine licenses are subject to discipline for the same causes and pursuant to the same procedures as active, unrestricted licenses.
(3) Effect of License - The issuance by the Board of a license to practice medicine subjects the licensee to the jurisdiction of the Board in all matters set forth in the Medical Practice Act and implementing rules and regulations, including all matters related to discipline. The licensee agrees by acceptance of such license to produce patient medical records and materials as requested by the Board and to appear before the Board upon receipt of notice from the Board commanding such appearance. Failure of the licensee to appear and/or to produce records or materials as requested, after appropriate notice, shall constitute grounds to suspend or revoke the license at the Board's discretion.
(4) Exempted from the provisions of these rules are the following:
(a) Licensed physicians of other states when called in consultation regarding specific clinical or scientific aspects of the field of medicine by a Tennessee licensed/registered physician as provided by T.C.A. § 63-6-204(a)(3);
(b) US Military physicians operating within the Federal jurisdiction and regulations related to their duties as provided by T.C.A. § 63-6-204(a)(3);
(c) The informal practice of medicine between physicians in the form of uncompensated professional dialogue regarding aspects of the field of medicine; and
(d) A recognized, highly specialized, licensed physician from another state or country who specializes in the diagnosis and/or treatment of rare or orphan diseases and who provides consultation to research hospitals, with or without compensation or the expectation of compensation.
(5) Physicians who are contractually obligated to provide and/or deliver medical services in Tennessee must be licensed to practice medicine in Tennessee, regardless of whether such services are in exchange for direct compensation.
(6) Notwithstanding the requirements of Rule 0880-02-.14(7), a physician licensed in Tennessee may engage in the practice of telemedicine under the following circumstances:
(a) Except as provided under paragraphs seven (7) and eight (8) of this rule, the patient encounter to establish or maintain the physician-patient relationship via telemedicine between the physician in a remote location and the patient in Tennessee may occur with or without the use of a facilitator so long as such encounter is consistent with parts 1 and 2 of this Rule:
1. If no facilitator is present:
(i) The patient must utilize adequately sophisticated technology to enable the remote provider to verify the patient's identity and location with an appropriate level of confidence; and
(ii) The patient must transmit all relevant health information at the level of store-and-forward technology or secure video conferencing; and
(iii) The remote provider must disclose his or her name, current and primary practice location, medical degree and recognized specialty area, if any, and in accordance with T.C.A. § 63-1-109.
2. If a facilitator is present:
(i) The facilitator must personally verify the identity of the patient; however, all relevant health information must be transmitted to the remote provider using at least the level of store-and-forward technology. The facilitator and the patient may interact with the provider at the remote location via secure video conferencing or store-and-forward technology; and
(ii) The facilitator must identify themselves, their role, and their title to the patient and the remote physician; and
(iii) The remote provider must disclose his or her name, current and primary practice location, medical degree and recognized specialty area, if any, and all additional information required pursuant to T.C.A. § 63-1-109.
(b) For patient encounters conducted via telemedicine, the physician should have appropriate patient record(s) or be able to obtain such information during the telemedicine encounter.
(c) The physician engaging in telemedicine is responsible for ensuring that the medical record contains all pertinent data and information gleaned from the encounter. Any physician conducting a patient encounter via telemedicine must so document in the patient record and must state the technology used. All records for Tennessee patients are subject to inspection pursuant to T.C.A. § 63-1-117.
(d) If the information transmitted through electronic or other means as part of a patient's encounter is not of sufficient quality or does not contain adequate information for the physician to form an opinion, the physician must declare they cannot form an opinion to make an adequate diagnosis and must request direct referral for inspection and actual physical examination, request additional data, or recommend the patient be evaluated by the patient's primary physician or other local health care provider.
(7) A physician licensed by the Board may, if requested to do so by another physician licensed by the Board, engage in medical interpretation as defined in these rules and render an opinion based on data which is transmitted electronically. In such cases, the physician providing the medical interpretation need not examine the patient and need not have the complete medical record accessible, unless the interpreting physician believes that additional information is necessary. Any opinion rendered by such interpreting physician must be reduced to writing which includes the name and electronic signature of the interpreting physician.
(8) No patient seeking care via telemedicine who is under the age of eighteen (18) years of age can be treated unless there is a facilitator present, except as otherwise authorized by law.

Notes

Tenn. Comp. R. & Regs. 0880-02-.16
Original Rule filed January 26, 1998; effective April 11, 1998. Amendment filed February 3, 1998; effective April 19, 1998. Amendment filed November 23, 2005; effective February 6, 2006. Amendment filed March 14, 2006; effective May 28, 2006. Amendments filed August 2, 2016; effective 10/31/2016.

Authority: T.C.A. §§ 4-5-202, 4-5-204, 63-6-101, 63-6-209, 63-6-214, and Public Chapter 261 of the 109th General Assembly.

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