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Washington Telemedicine lawThe Washington Telemedicine Law requires telemedicine training for most healthcare licensees starting January 1, 2021. Washington state legislators have taken a landmark step toward making telemedicine law (and general telehealth law) more clearly defined and understandable to healthcare practitioners throughout their state. To our knowledge, Washington’s action regarding practitioner training is the largest to date, involving more types of healthcare professionals than any other state.

For you history buffs, Georgia’s Composite Board for social workers, counselors, and MFTs was the first regulatory board to require professional training of their licensees (2015), mandating 6 hours of training for all practitioners, along with an extra 3 hours for all supervisors who practice telemental health in any form. The Texas MFT board required a similar law mandating 15 hours of telehealth training in 2017.

Washington however, has passed a more comprehensive state-wide law, mandating training for health care professionals practicing telemedicine (or telehealth or teletherapy) that meets the criteria below. Two groups of physicians are exempted from this training requirement. Details and links below are excerpted from the Washington State Legislature website and pasted below for your convenience.

RCW 43.70.495 Telemedicine training for health care professionals:

(1) The legislature finds that a large segment of Washington residents do not have access to critical health care services. Telemedicine is a way to increase access to health care services to those who would otherwise not have reasonable access. The legislature therefore intends to ensure that health care professionals who provide services through telemedicine, as defined in RCW 70.41.020, in cities and rural areas alike, have current information available, making it possible for them to provide telemedicine services to the entire state of Washington.
(2) Except as permitted under subsection (3) of this section, beginning January 1, 2021, a health care professional who provides clinical services through telemedicine, other than a physician licensed under chapter 18.71 RCW or an osteopathic physician licensed under chapter 18.57 RCW, shall complete a telemedicine training. By January 1, 2020, the telemedicine collaborative shall make a telemedicine training available on its web site for use by health care professionals who use telemedicine technology. If a health care professional completes the training, the health care professional shall sign and retain an attestation. The training:
(a) Must include information on the current state and federal law, liability, informed consent, and other criteria established by the collaborative for the advancement of telemedicine, in collaboration with the department and the Washington state medical quality assurance commission;
(b) Must include a question and answer methodology to demonstrate accrual of knowledge; and
(c) May be made available in electronic format and completed over the internet.
(3) A health care professional is deemed to have met the requirements of subsection (2) of this section if the health care professional:
(a) Completes an alternative telemedicine training; and
(b) Signs and retains an attestation that he or she completed the alternative telemedicine training.
(4) The definitions in this subsection apply throughout this section unless the context clearly requires otherwise.
(a) “Alternative telemedicine training” means training that includes components that are substantively similar to the telemedicine training developed by the telemedicine collaborative under subsection (2) of this section. “Alternative telemedicine training” may include, but is not limited to:
(i) Training offered by hospitals and other health care facilities to employees of the facility;
(ii) Continuing education courses; and
(iii) Trainings developed by a health care professional board or commission.
(b) “Health care professional” means a person licensed, registered, or certified to provide health services.

Where Else to Get Quality Telemedicine Training

The Telebehavioral Health Institute offers competency-based, evidence-based professional training that has been fully accredited for Physicians, Nurse Practitioners, Nurses, Physician Assistants, Social Workers, Psychologists, Counselors, and Addiction Professionals.
  • The Washington state requirements are met by TBHI’s Introduction to Telehealth Theory & Practice digital training, available 24/7 at 50% off for the TBHI Holiday sale. Use this coupon code in the shopping cart for any training at TBHI through December 31, 2020: “Holiday50”.
  • Other specialty telehealth training topics are available in the TBHI Training Catalog.
  • Consultation is available in four formats to help with program development.
  • Training discounts and consultation packages are available for groups seeking to get started on the right foot with legal, ethical, and documentation compliance, and much more.

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