TELEHEALTH: (VIRTUALLY) SEEING THE DOCTOR
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the NYS Workers’ Compensation Board approved, for the first time, telehealth visits for injured workers. As the pandemic begins to recede, the Board is preparing to make its telehealth rules permanent – with a few changes.
The new rules will require that the first visit be in person, not by telephone or video. After that, every third visit must also be in-person and not by telephone or video. Only a medical provider who has seen the patient in person can use telehealth – you cannot see one doctor in person and a different one by telephone or video who has not seen you in person.
Physical therapists, occupational therapists, acupuncturists and chiropractors are not permitted to use telehealth, and permanency examinations must be conducted in person.
Insurance companies are also allowed to have you examined by telehealth – but only if you have an attorney and you consent to a telehealth examination.
Although the telehealth rules apply to all types of medical treatment (except the ones specifically excluded), it is likely to be used the most in mental health. Along those lines, the Board has also issued new guidelines for the treatment of depression and post-traumatic stress disorder, which will guide mental health professionals in the treatment of those conditions.