Telemedicine Rules Update from the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation

  • 9/1/2020 4:30 pm

The August issue of the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation’s Bureau Bulletin includes important updates and information. One item to be aware of is the Telemedicine Rules update that was shared earlier this month.


 Here is the update from the Bureau Bulletin:


In 2019, BWC attorney Mark Finks organized a working group to study the possibility of enacting telehealth/telemedicine rules for workers’ compensation in Tennessee. The working group is made up of medical providers, employers, insurance carriers, attorneys, and bureau staff. The group has met several times over the course of a year, both in person and virtually.


The Bureau is presently working with these stakeholder groups to develop rules for the specific use of these services in workers’ compensation that protects the patient’s rights but also complies with the workers’ compensation law, particularly as to panel selection and access to patient records. The formal rulemaking process will consist of a public hearing and review of the rules by the Governor’s office, Attorney General’s office, and the Joint Government Operations Committee at the state legislature.


Also, the Governor and Tennessee General Assembly are considering a special legislative session to continue discussion of a bill filed earlier this year dealing with criteria, payments, and the appropriate coverages for telemedicine services.


Even though telehealth was already available in the state’s health and injury plan for employees, the use of telehealth has also increased greatly in workers’ compensation. With the onset of the pandemic, many physicians and other providers (such as physical therapists) have started to use real-time audio/video to have “virtual” visits with patients for safety and convenience. Medicare has expanded their guidelines for these telemedicine visits. From the information the Bureau has received so far, telemedicine has been well received by most patients.  It is important to note that “telehealth” is a broad term that encompasses using technology to provide health information of all kinds to many different parties. “Telemedicine” is more narrowly defined as the interaction and treatment by the provider with the individual patient.