Allowing Prescriptions to be issued via Telemedicine

S.1035 would allow licensed South Carolina physicians to prescribe medication to a patient through telemedicine, and requires physicians to comply with the same regulations and standards of traditional practitioners. Telemedicine is defined by the bill as “the practice of medicine using electronic communications, information technology, or other means including, but not limited to, secure videoconferencing or interactive audio using asynchronous store and forward transfer technology between a physician in one location and a patient in another location, with or without an intervening health care provider.”

S.1035 specifies that telemedicine does not include: audio only phone calls, emails, instant message conversations, or faxes.

The amended version of this bill contains a number of additional regulations, primarily consisting of requirements for recordkeeping, compliance with current medical standards, practices, and state and federal laws, etc. Physicians practicing telemedicine are not permitted to prescribe Schedule II and III or lifestyle medications except as authorized by the State Board of Medical Examiners, and drugs prescribed for the purpose of inducing abortions are strictly prohibited.

Legalizing the delivery of medical services via telemedicine is a pro market reform that has the potential to save both patients and physicians time and money. Telemedicine can also make it easier for citizens in rural communities to have access to services from a physician, thereby partially alleviating the problem of doctor shortages in rural areas.

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