For several years, North Carolina medical providers and patients have been enjoying the benefits of telemedicine – the practice by which patients consult with doctors electronically, often by video chat. So far, there has been no formal legislation specifically governing telemedicine, arguably one of the reasons why it has been able to grow and thrive.
The North Carolina Medical Board has offered professional guidelines via a position paper, which offers medical professionals best practices.
Telemedicine has become popular for many reasons, including convenience and significant cost savings.
Not able to leave well enough alone, however, North Carolina legislators have introduced legislation to regulate telemedicine. SB 779 and HB 967 would establish some basic definitions and regulatory guidelines for telemedicine practice in NC.
While most of the provisions in the bill are relatively benign, this legislation would impose government regulations where none are needed. Once they establish a baseline of “definitions” and basic regulatory guidelines; more restrictive rules are sure to follow (such as an insurance parity law).
Healthcare is already one of the most highly regulated industries, telemedicine in NC has thrived in no small part because it has at least partially escaped the strangling grip and distortions of government intervention.
Telemedicine in North Carolina has benefited many patients and providers by providing a convenient, low-cost alternative to the traditional doctor visit. State legislators should leave it alone.