As Telehealth Becomes a Widespread Practice in the COVID-19 Era, Provider Compliance is Critical

Doctor and Patient Using Telehealth

Telehealth Corporate Operations Without a Regulatory Compliance Structure Stand to Lose — and Lose Big. Here’s How to Avoid That

During this unique time in public health history, as a society we have adapted — in many ways for the better. This includes the growth of telehealth as a delivery model of services traditionally provided within physician offices and medical centers. However, this rapid adaption of telehealth brought with it unforeseen — maybe even initially ignored for the sake of innovation — consequences, including a spike in fraud, waste, abuse, and other core healthcare compliance principles.

The federal government at the onset of the COVID-19 crisis waived many healthcare compliance rules in order to ensure individuals were able to maintain relationships with their providers. These adjustments included HIPAA security and privacy requirements, co-payments, and co-insurance rules.

However, many other federal and state compliance rules that dictate the delivery of healthcare are still as relevant as ever. If they are not followed, an organization or healthcare provider will stand to lose big — not just in monetary figures, but also damage to the brand and the provider’s ability to serve as healthcare professional in the future.

Then there’s the issue of individuals getting involved in setting up the organizations. Yes, partnerships in the healthcare and tech arenas can develop into tremendous advancements. But it’s important for those without an understanding of the healthcare regulatory environment to receive counsel on the laws and regulations that dictate how they and their companies can provide services to patients — whether those are covered by government insurance, commercial payors, or private pay.

Telehealth corporate operations that do not implement a compliance structure for the healthcare regulatory environment — which controls everything from hiring to reimbursement — is a major red flag for investors and anyone who works for the organization. 

Critical Items to Check Prior to Starting or Accepting a Telehealth Position

  • Telehealth Company Marketing Practices or Proposals: Depending on the structure, marketing to patients can run afoul of state and federal laws, including the Anti-Kickback Law.
  • Licensing/Credentialing Procedures: Is there a requirement that telehealth providers only “see” patients residing in states in which the provider is licensed? Or is the telehealth company offering indemnification to providers practicing in states in which they are not licensed? Incorrect oversight of this issue puts providers future ability to practice in jeopardy.
  • Corporate Practice of Medicine: The procedures introduced to ensure that providers, not entities are making care, diagnosis, and treatment decisions. Entities involved in care decisions are interfering with the provider/patient relationship and are subject to compliance violations.
  • Ownership/Access to Electronic Health Records: This is both a state law and contractual issue that must be addressed by a telehealth company operating in a compliance environment. Medicare is beginning to take adverse action against providers that cannot provide copies of electronic health records for telehealth companies that are already closed due to fraudulent operations conducted by the organization and not necessarily the provider.

The Healthcare Compliance Attorneys at Chapman Law Group Are National Telehealth Advisors for Healthcare Providers

We at Chapman Law Group are staying alert to every new development. As national lawyers for health care practitioners, we are here to provide the guidance healthcare providers need for compliance and regulatory protocol as the COVID-19 pandemic continues.

If you are concerned about your practice’s telehealth compliance, contact the national health law attorneys at Chapman Law Group today to discuss mitigating your compliance risk.

Our health care compliance team at Chapman Law Group has vast experience in state and federal health care regulations and best practices across the U.S. One of our lawyers is a former Medicare attorney, another is a former Medicaid fraud prosecutor, and each of us holds an LL.M. in Health Law from Loyola University Chicago School of Law — the top school in the U.S. for healthcare law.

Our extensive experience in key areas of regulatory compliance in healthcare include:

We represent licensed medical professionals, including:

Our offices are in Detroit (where we serve Dearborn, Troy, Ann Arbor and Grand Rapids, and the rest of Michigan); Miami and Sarasota, Florida (for Jacksonville, Tampa, Orlando, West Palm Beach, and all of Florida); Los Angeles/Southern California; and Chicago

Contact us today and let us put our know-how to work for you.

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