During the 2019 legislative session, Florida passed Chapter 2019-137, Laws of Florida, which establishes standards of practice for telehealth services, including patient evaluations, record-keeping, and controlled substances prescribing. The law also authorizes out-of-state health care practitioners to perform telehealth services for patients in Florida. Signed by the Governor on June 25, 2019, this law became effective on July 1, 2019.
Out-of-state health care practitioners must be registered with the Florida Department of Health to perform telehealth services for patients in Florida.
Health care providers must be licensed within their scope of practice by the appropriate licensing body to practice telehealth in Florida.
Providers must also use two-way, interactive communication tools, such as live video, instead of email or audio-only communication. If you use Medicaid, your telehealth provider must be registered with the Florida Medicaid program to receive reimbursement for telehealth services. Florida doesn’t require private insurers to cover telehealth, so check with your insurance company to determine if you’re eligible for the service. Some of these regulations may be altered during the COVID-19 pandemic.
In Florida, telehealth providers are permitted to prescribe medications if the medications aren’t listed as controlled substances.
Controlled substances shall not be prescribed through the use of telemedicine except for the treatment of psychiatric disorders. This provision does not preclude physicians from ordering controlled substances through the use of telemedicine for patients hospitalized in a facility licensed pursuant to Chapter 395, F.S.Telemedicine Rule, Rule 64B8-9.0141, F.A.C.
However, there is one important exception to this rule: If you need a controlled substance to manage a mental health condition, your telehealth provider is allowed to prescribe it.
Before prescribing medication, your telehealth provider must conduct an evaluation and explain the risks and benefits of the medication to you.
Filling out a questionnaire before your telehealth appointment isn’t enough to satisfy the evaluation requirement, so you should expect the provider to ask multiple questions about your symptoms and health history.