Prescribing via Telepsychiatry
Prescribing medication and conducting medication management is vital to a psychiatry provider’s role.
Telepsychiatry providers are able to prescribe medication through telehealth as long as certain standards are met.
Establishing Patient-Provider Relationships
Before a prescription can be written, a patient-provider relationship must be established. The patient-provider relationship requires an examination that provides information equivalent to an in-person exam and conforms to the standard of care for in-person services.
Each state medical board carries its own laws and regulations regarding telepsychiatry prescription standards. Many states determine that establishing a patient-provider relationship when one did not exist before meets state prescribing standards, while other states require an in-person, physical examination prior to writing a prescription.
Prescribing Controlled Substances
Prescribing controlled substances via telepsychiatry is a controversial topic. While substance abuse concerns are valid, particularly given the current opioid crisis, there are instances when prescribing controlled substances is considered best practice.
The Ryan Haight Online Pharmacy Consumer Protection Act, a section of the Controlled Substance Act (CSA), prohibits dispensing controlled substances over the internet without a valid prescription in order to expunge illegitimate online pharmacies. The Ryan Haight Act currently mentions that clarification of a telemedicine exception will be specified at a future date.
Prescribing laws are an ever-evolving aspect of telemedicine. For information on the most up-to-date prescribing policies in your state, visit the American Telemedicine Association (ATA) Policy Resource Center or the Center for Connected Health Policy.