New Jersey expands access to telehealth services

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As part of an effort to expand access to telehealth services, the state of New Jersey’s Division of Consumer Affairs announced Tuesday that it will temporarily waive some regulations surrounding patients with chronic pain, or in need of medical marijuana.

The division’s Acting Director Paul R. Rodríguez signed an administrative order that would waive the requirements for in-person medical evaluations when providers treat patients with chronic pain through prescriptions of controlled dangerous substances, or medical marijuana.

“This action temporarily removes barriers to providing patients with the medications they need to treat chronic pain and other diseases during the COVID-19 crisis,” Rodríguez said. “This will ensure that those in need of vital prescriptions are able to get them, without unnecessarily putting themselves, fellow patients, and their healthcare providers at risk of exposure to COVID-19.”

The action is the latest the division has taken as a response to Gov. Phil Murphy’s push to identify opportunities for broader telehealth and telemedicine access to help reduce the spread of COVID-19.

“New Jersey health care practices are again offering in-person services, but telehealth remains an important option for patients and providers,” said Attorney General Gurbir S. Grewal. “Today, we are making it easier for patients to choose telehealth services for any reason, including to avoid an in-person visit due to the continuing risk of COVID-19. Doctors who use telemedicine to prescribe CDS or authorize medical marijuana will be held to the same professional standards as for in-person visits and must comply with all of the important safeguards we have adopted to prevent diversion and misuse.”

The order allows health care providers to use telehealth appointments to do evaluations for prescriptions of controlled dangerous substances and medical marijuana, as well as to do patient reviews when continuing those prescriptions.

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