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Trending in Telehealth: July 25 – 31, 2023

Trending in Telehealth highlights state legislative and regulatory developments that impact the healthcare providers, telehealth and digital health companies, pharmacists and technology companies that deliver and facilitate the delivery of virtual care.

Trending in the past week:

  • Professional Practice Standards


Finalized Legislation and Rulemaking

  • Nevada finalized a rule that updates its physical therapy standards. Physical therapists may now provide services via telehealth in accordance with Nevada’s general telehealth statute, Nev. Rev. Stat. § 629.515.
    Legislation and Rulemaking Activity in Proposal Phase


  • Texas proposed a rule that would amend Division of Workers’ Compensation regulations that set telehealth and telemedicine billing requirements for services provided to injured employees in the Texas workers’ compensation system. The proposed rule would add a definition for “teledentistry services” and would add Medicaid payment policies to the list of applicable payment policies that healthcare providers must use to bill for telemedicine, telehealth and teledentistry services.
  • West Virginia’s Medical Imaging and Radiation Therapy Technology Board of Examiners proposed a rule that would clarify that telehealth practice is inapplicable to the performance of medical imaging and radiation therapy. This proposed rule comes in response to W.V. Code § 30-1-26, which requires all health boards to adopt rules governing telehealth.

Why it matters:

  • States continue to refine and adopt professional practice standards for telehealth. Some states have recently adopted new or revised professional practice standards that vigorously regulate telehealth. As the latest Nevada and West Virginia rules demonstrate, regulation for certain health professions may be less robust and may simply clarify whether the profession is permitted to practice via telehealth.

Telehealth is an important development in care delivery, but the regulatory patchwork is complicated. The McDermott digital health team works alongside the industry’s leading providers, payors and technology innovators to help them enter new markets, break down barriers to delivering accessible care and mitigate enforcement risk through proactive compliance. Are you working to make healthcare more accessible through telehealth? Let us help you transform telehealth.

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APTA Pushes Digital Health Companies to Use “Physical Therapy” in Marketing Materials Only When the Care is Directed by Licensed Physical Therapists

On December 2, 2022, the American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) published a statement concerning a recent decision from UnitedHealthcare and its contractor, Kaia Health, to stop marketing Kaia Health’s services as “physical therapy” given that Kaia Health’s program does not consistently involve licensed physical therapists. As a result, digital health companies that market themselves as providing physical therapy should evaluate their marketing and customer communications to determine whether any revisions are required pursuant to the APTA’s guidance.

The APTA and APTA North Carolina sent a letter to UnitedHealthcare, along with a complaint filed with the North Carolina Board of Physical Therapy Examiners, identifying that the services provided through Kaia Health’s application were not overseen by a licensed physical therapist. UnitedHealthcare subsequently acknowledged that Kaia Health and United Healthcare’s benefits manager, Optum, utilized the phrase “physical therapy” in its marketing materials and that all materials would be revised to remove reference to physical therapy.

The APTA has consistently held that physical therapy, either in person or digitally, must be “performed or directed only by licensed physical therapists.” The APTA has requested that physical therapy providers sign a pledge, which in part acknowledges that the “physical therapist examination, evaluation, diagnosis, development of a management plan, and intervention shall be represented and reimbursed as ‘physical therapy’ only when performed by a physical therapist or when selected interventions are performed by a physical therapist assistant under the direction and supervision of a physical therapist.” Several digital healthcare companies have signed onto the APTA’s pledge.

The complaint filed with the North Carolina Board of Physical Therapy Examiners, along with the APTA’s letter to UnitedHealthcare, are strong indicators that state boards of physical therapy and industry groups are reviewing the marketing and the scope of services offered by virtual physical therapy companies, as well as companies who partner with virtual physical therapy companies.

Businesses offering digital or virtual physical therapy or musculoskeletal services should review their service descriptions and marketing materials and assess whether any updating is required—a task our healthcare team can help with. For assistance or questions, please reach out to your regular McDermott lawyer or contact any of the authors of this article.

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