By Judge Dale Tipps, Murfreesboro
Telehealth has officially arrived, with the adoption of new “Telehealth for Workers’ Compensation” rules. The rules may be found here.
“Telehealth” means “the distribution of health-related services and information via electronic information and telecommunication technologies.”
Telehealth, a/k/a telemedicine, has been around for a while, but its acceptance and use increased dramatically last year with COVID-19. In fact, the Bureau issued temporary guidance shortly after the pandemic hit last year.
The new rules are designed to formally provide a telehealth option for injured employees in Tennessee. They took effect on October 19, 2021,
Of course, the use of telehealth is just one option, and the injured worker must consent to it, electronically or in writing. The employee may also opt out of telehealth at any time and request that future visits occur in person. If the provider doesn’t wish to offer in-person treatment, the worker may select a new authorized treating physician.
Healthcare services must be “medically appropriate” for telehealth, and some situations are specifically excluded. A few examples of these exclusions are injuries involving significant physical trauma, loss of consciousness, dizziness, and respiratory distress, but the list is much longer and isn’t exhaustive.
The medical fee schedule will apply to bills for telehealth services.
As required by the new rules, the Bureau has created a new C-42 Choice of Physicians form. As you can see here, it allows the employer/carrier to indicate whether any of the three physicians offered are also available for telehealth. It also provides the opportunity to offer an optional telehealth doctor in addition to the three in-person physicians.
Employers and carriers should begin using this new form immediately.