The AMA House of Delegates this week approved a set of principles to ensure the appropriate coverage of and payment for telemedicine services. 

The principles, recommended in a report (AMA login required) by the AMA Council on Medical Service, aim to support future innovation in the use of telemedicine while ensuring patient safety, quality of care and the privacy of patient information, as well as protecting the patient-physician relationship and promoting improved care coordination and communication with medical homes. 

The principles set out a number of conditions for coverage and payment, including abiding by state licensure laws and following evidence-based practice guidelines. The AMA policy also:

  • Encourages additional research to develop a stronger evidence base for telemedicine
  • Supports additional pilot programs in the Medicare program to enable coverage of telemedicine services, including but not limited to store-and-forward telemedicine
  • Urges physicians to verify that their medical liability insurance policy covers telemedicine services, including telemedicine services provided across state lines if applicable, prior to the delivery of any telemedicine service

To ensure quality of care, patient safety and coordination of care in the provision of telemedicine services, the policy reiterates the importance of national medical specialty societies continuing to be involved in the development of appropriate and comprehensive practice parameters, standards and guidelines to address the clinical and technological aspects of telemedicine.  

Delegates also called for a study of the issues associated with the state-based licensure and the portability of state licensure for telemedicine services.

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