- Associated Press - Saturday, April 23, 2016

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - A new Indiana law will allow physicians to write prescriptions for patients without having to meet in person.

The law signed last month by Gov. Mike Pence overturns a requirement for physicians and patients to meet in person before a prescription can be written. Indiana patients will soon be able to talk with doctors through a video call, with doctors able to write prescriptions.

“This is the future of things,” said Dr. Stephen Tharp, an internal medicine physician with the St. Vincent Medical Group in Frankfort. “We have to utilize new technologies to help people.”

Forty-six states now allow “tele-prescribing” and once Indiana joins in only Alaska, Arkansas and Texas will prohibit it.

The Indianapolis Business Journal (https://bit.ly/1Ti25Cg ) reports the new law takes effect July 1. Hospitals, physician associations, insurance companies, and technology companies that connect patients and doctors supported the legislation.

State Rep. Cindy Kirchhofer, who sponsored the legislation, said she heard repeatedly from insurers, health providers and employers about allowing for prescriptions using telecommunication.

“And then I thought, ‘You’re talking about access to health care services in rural Indiana,’” said Kirchhofer, who works as a risk manager for Franciscan St. Francis Health.

Indianapolis-based health insurer Anthem Inc. launched an online service in other states three years ago connecting patients and doctors through two-way video. Members can sign up and view profiles of doctors, and video calls can be taken and questions can be answered by doctors without appointments.

The company says a typical visit online has a cost of $49.

“People have an ankle sprain and want to know if they have to go to the emergency room and get an X-ray,” said John Jesser, vice president for Anthem. “The doctors can help you, show you where to press on your ankle, help you rule out things like a fracture. It can save you from spending a whole Saturday afternoon in an ER, just waiting for an X-ray.”

Under the law, doctors won’t be allowed to prescribe controlled substances such as oxycodone or morphine if there hasn’t been a meeting in person with the patient.


Information from: Indianapolis Business Journal, https://www.ibj.com

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