The recommendations came as the Chicago-based organization of physicians and medical students formally announced its support for the practice, claiming telemedicine could “greatly improve access and quality of care while maintaining patient safety.”
The group recommended, for instance, that physicians be licensed in the state their patient is in, and that patient-physician relationships should be established before the provision of telemedicine services (such as through a face-to-face examination or consultation with another physician).
The AMA also recommended that physicians and other health practitioners should abide by the state medical practice laws of the state the patient receives services.
“Whether a patient is seeing his or her physician in person or via telemedicine, the same standards of care must be maintained,” AMA President Robert Wah, said in a statement.
The policy also proposed that the AMA would work with Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services and others to develop a reimbursement system for telemedicine care, similar to payment for traditional consultations.
Some telemedicine lobbying groups — such as the Alliance for Connected Care, helmed by former senators Tom Daschle (D-S.D.), Trent Lott (R-Miss.) and John Breaux (D-La.) — have argued that state and federal laws should be changed to better accommodate telemedicine. (The group could not be reached for comment for this post.)
State regulation could discourage physicians from treating patients virtually if they are in other states, for instance.
Still, Wah said in a statement, the new policy is meant to establish a “foundation for physicians to utilize telemedicine to help maintain an ongoing relationship with their patients, and as a means to enhance follow-up care, better coordinate care and manage chronic conditions.”