Given the stress of the pandemic in March 2020, the State Medical Board of Ohio made the decision to temporarily ease telemedicine rules and regulations.
When COVID-19 struck in early 2020 and residents were suddenly confined to their homes, states found themselves requiring accessible telemedicine to safely provide medical services. Ohio quickly reacted by relaxing their telemedicine regulations and allowing physicians to use telemedicine in certain cases in place of in-person visits without enforcement from the Ohio Medical Board. This included:
- Prescribing controlled substances
- Prescribing for subacute and chronic pain
- Prescribing to patients not seen by the provider
- Pain management
- Medical marijuana recommendations and renewals
- Office-based treatment for opioid addiction
These less stringent regulations were set to end when Governor DeWine terminated the state of emergency in June 2021. However, based on the rise in COVID-19 cases the Medical Board elected to extend the relaxed pandemic telemedicine rules through the end of 2021.
To comply with this extension, a physician who wants to treat a patient through telemedicine in Ohio must answer “yes” to these questions for each particular patient situation in which telemedicine is being considered:
(1) Am I licensed as a physician or physician assistant in Ohio?
(2) Can I meet the standard of care for providing telemedicine in this particular situation?
(3) If the telemedicine patient visit will involve or is likely to involve prescribing, am I able to comply with the Medical Board’s prescribing laws and rules?
The Medical Board released guidance through FAQs that address several situational specific questions. The Medical Board states that the purpose of this announcement was to give advance notice of the end of the relaxed telemedicine rules to hospitals, practice groups, physicians, physician assistants, and most importantly, patients.
The FAQs also provide more information relating to other laws and rules for telemedicine in Ohio, such as the standard of care that applies to telemedicine and prescribing by telemedicine. Most importantly, the FAQs state that beginning on December 31, 2021, the moratorium on enforcement will come to an end, and providers must follow the existing laws and rules for in-person visits. The Medial Board warns, after December 31, 2021, if a provider fails to follow the rules governing in-person visits, they could be subject to disciplinary action.
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