Last year, CCHP conducted a 50-state scan of occupational therapy and physical therapy policies that was published in the fall 2018 edition of the International Journal of Telerehabilitation. The survey results show the current level of adoption of both laws and regulations that allow physical and occupational therapists to use telehealth to engage in patient care services as of August 2018. CCHP found that twenty-seven states had enacted at least one policy that allows patient-to-provider or provider-to-provider services in occupational therapy, while twenty-eight states had done the same for physical therapy. The specific requirements laid out through these policies varied by state, but none appeared to add additional burdens to providers.
CCHP identified eight common policy areas for categorization including telehealth/telemedicine/telecommunications definitions, location/type of site/geography, type of service, supervision, informed consent, licensing, patient-provider-relationship/in-person exam required, and other. The article provides, in table format, each state’s policies for all categories and indicates where no reference was found.
Some of the highlights from the results include:
• Forty-seven states had a telehealth-related policy for either occupational or physical therapy
• Twenty states had telehealth regulations for occupational therapy
• Twenty-four states had telehealth regulations for physical therapy
• Seventeen states had laws for occupational therapy
• Thirty-four states had laws for physical therapy
• Fourteen states allowed occupational therapists to use live video
• Twenty-five states allowed physical therapists to use live video
• Twelve states allowed for the use of store-and-forward for occupational and/or physical therapy
• Four states allowed for the use of remote patient monitoring for occupational and/or physical therapy
Overall, CCHP found that there was no observable preference between regulations and laws for the policies among states. Additionally, telehealth is becoming more common among allied health professionals with nearly half enacting at least one policy for occupational or physical therapy. Similar to other telehealth policies, states did not follow a uniform approach regarding terminology, requirements, limitations, or modalities included in these policies, which may result from using pre-existing state telehealth policy language found in policies for other occupations or state-specific political and economic differences that affect telehealth policy overall.
Free access to the full article, including the 50-state scan and links to each policy found, is available at the website for the International Journal of Telerehabilitation.