Telemedicine roundup: AMA ethical guidelines, more state parity laws pass, Teladoc IPO plans

By Brian Dolan
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Doctor On DemandThere's been a cluster of important telemedicine news in the past few days: the AMA is developing ethical guidelines for remote visits, a majority of states now have telemedicine parity laws in place, and details about Teladoc's business came to light through an SEC filing related to its hoped-for IPO.

This month the American Medical Association's ethics council will begin to craft a set of guidelines focused on ethical considerations related to the use of online or mobile visits between patients and physicians.

“As the public becomes increasingly fluent in utilizing novel technologies in all aspects of daily life, evolving applications in health care are altering the contours of when, where, and how patients and patients and physicians engage with one another,” the AMA's ethics council wrote, according to Forbes. “In any model of care, patients need to be able to trust that physicians will place patient welfare above other interests, provide competent care, provide the information patients need to make well-considered decisions about care, respect patient privacy and confidentiality, and take steps to ensure continuity of care.”

The group may provide guidelines that suggest physicians "inform patients about limitations of services provided, advise telehealth users how to arrange for any needed follow-up care," and "be proficient in telehealth technologies." 

It seems 2015 is the year the AMA is getting serious about digital health. Earlier this year the AMA launched a digital health lab with accelerator Matter in Chicago. Over the years the AMA has also offered up health and medical apps to physicians and patients alike, including a short-lived weight loss app and a medication adherence app, which is still available for $0.99.

Meanwhile, the American Telemedicine Association announced last week that three more states -- Indiana, Minnesota, and Nevada -- had passed telemedicine parity laws, which basically require equal pay for similar services regardless of whether a visit with a physician occurred in-person or via online video. Now, 27 states and DC have similar legislation in place, which marks a majority of states having telemedicine parity laws for the first time. The ATA notes that a number of states are weighing similar legislation right now: Connecticut, Delaware, Illinois, Massachusetts, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio and Pennsylvania.

And check out our full write-up of Teladoc's financials, user base, customers, and prior acquisition details -- all from it's recently filed S-1 document -- right here.