COVID-19 and Telehealth, Registered Interns and Provision of Supervision in Florida

COVID-19 and Telehealth, Registered Interns and Provision of Supervision in Florida

In 2019, Florida Statute 456 allowed the use of telehealth for the provision of mental health services  that included assessments, individual therapy, group therapy, family therapy, and patient education.  Technology had to include visual – the client and the clinician had to be able to see each other.  HIPAA regulations dictated the type of platform (technology) that could be used and said audio only phones, emails and faxes could not be used.  Prior to the national health emergency brought on by COVID-19, registered interns were not approved to provide services via telehealth.

Changes affecting the delivery of mental health services during the COVID-19 pandemic included:

  • HIPAA announced that during the national emergency, penalties would not be enforced if mental health professionals were not 100% compliant with HIPAA regulations when using telehealth
  • On April 3 2020, the Florida Board of Clinical Social Work, Marriage & Family Therapy, & Mental Health Counseling held an emergency meeting regarding regulations during the national health emergency
    • This rule allows registered interns to provide telehealth services during the next 90 days if they establish and adhere to the following:

      1. The registered intern has a qualified supervisor and maintains a qualified supervisor for the duration of the application of this rule; and
      2. The registered intern has a written telehealth protocol and safety plan in place with their current qualified supervisor which includes the provision that the qualified supervisor must be readily available during the electronic therapy session
    • The emergency rule also allows qualified supervisors to utilize face-to-face electronic methods (including telephone only communication) to conduct all supervision sessions for internship hours

It is important to note:

  • Telehealth has not been approved in every state
  • Clinicians are governed by the laws and regulations in the state where the clinician is and the state where the client is when services are provided
  • Florida 491 licensees must complete a telehealth course no later than March 31, 2023 then in alternating renewals thereafter.  The telehealth course can be substituted for the required ethics course.

Pleases see all our courses for the newly required telehealth course, provision of supervision course and everything you need for license renewal.