Telemedicine in Illinois
Updated August 2023
The use of telemedicine has increased significantly in the past couple of years, due in large part to its value in enabling patients to receive necessary and appropriate care from their physicians while facilitating social distancing during the COVID-19 public health emergency. The positive response by physicians and patients to telemedicine as an option for patient care has resulted in several modifications to third-party coverage and payment policies that will help minimize barriers to the use of telemedicine to expand patient access to care.
The FAQs below are based on common questions we have been hearing from ISMS members.
Q: What services can be provided via telemedicine?
A: Rules governing the practice of telehealth or telemedicine are determined by state law. Illinois defines telehealth as "the evaluation, diagnosis, or interpretation of electronically transmitted patient-specific data between a remote location and a licensed health care professional that generates interaction or treatment recommendations. 'Telehealth services' includes telemedicine and the delivery of health care services, including mental health treatment and substance use disorder treatment and services to a patient, regardless of patient location provided by way of an interactive telecommunications system, asynchronous store and forward system, remote patient monitoring technologies, e-visits, or virtual check-ins."
In general, telemedicine is a tool for providing health care services, not a distinct health care service. If a service or patient encounter can be provided virtually using the same standard of care as if it were provided in person, a physician or other eligible health care professional can use telemedicine.
Physicians and other health care professionals who provide telemedicine services to patients located in Illinois must be licensed by the state of Illinois, unless an exception applies.
Q: Can I prescribe controlled substances via telemedicine?
A: Federal policy on this issue is evolving.
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