April 1, 2020
The Department of Safety and Professional Services (Department) has received numerous inquiries regarding Emergency Order 16 and also the status of telemedicine/telehealth practice as a result of the COVID-19 public health emergency.
The emergency covers a wide range of issues across many health care professions. The order took action that will make it easier to quickly expand the health care workforce by readmitted those with expired licenses and by welcoming providers from other states. It will also enhance flexibility so providers can more effectively respond to areas of greatest need. Please read the order, linked above, and also reference this Frequently Asked Questions document for clarifications. Both address individuals who have expired licenses and wish to return to practice.
Also, the order addresses telemedicine specifically, but we have also received questions about telehealth practice for other providers. The practice of telehealth is generally allowed under existing Wisconsin law unless there is some profession-specific requirement or restriction. Credential holders must use their professional judgment to determine if telehealth is appropriate for the patient or client being treated, to abide by all other applicable rules of practice and professional conduct, and to be properly credentialed or authorized to practice in the state of Wisconsin. If someone can practice in Wisconsin via an Emergency Order, a compact, or a temporary or permanent license, that individual can practice telehealth in Wisconsin and provide services to Wisconsin residents to the same extent as similarly licensed Wisconsin practitioners.
The Wisconsin Medical Examining Board has the only telemedicine rule currently in effect in Wisconsin. This rule may be found at Wis. Admin. Code Med chapter 24. While this rule applies only to the Medical Examining Board, many of the concepts in this rule may be informative to credential holders in other professions. Here is a link to this rule. Note that portions of this rule were suspended when Governor Evers issued Emergency Order 16. Please review both Med chapter 24 as well as the statutory and rule provisions governing your profession when evaluating telemedicine/telehealth practice options during the COVID-10 public health emergency.
The Department is not able to answer legal questions regarding what the standard of care requires for any specific profession or any specific situation a credential holder may encounter. If practice-related questions arise, the Department encourages credential holders to consult with a supervisor, with their own private or institutional legal counsel, with their colleagues within the profession, or other sources familiar with their profession’s standards of practice. Profession-related statutes and rules can be found by clicking on a profession under the Rule/Statutes column here.
Also, there have been recent changes to Medicaid reimbursement of telehealth services. The Wisconsin Department of Health Services issued guidance on telehealth reimbursement changes and status during the COVID-19 public health emergency. The guidance is available here. The Office of the Commissioner of Insurance has also sent this letter regarding related insurance (malpractice) issues to insurers.
This information will be posted to our website. Please visit often, as we are updating it daily as decisions are made and new information is available.
Dawn B. Crim