Providing Mental Health Services Via Telehealth

Providing Mental Health Services Via Telehealth

Telehealth uses technology and special equipment to provide mental health services to a client who is in a location other than our office.  Telehealth and our national COVID-19 health emergency may forever change the provision of mental health services as we knew it.

Florida law allows mental health practitioners who are licensed in another state to provide Telehealth to a client who is in Florida; however, out of state clinicians must first register with the State of Florida.  Florida licensees do NOT need to register to provide Telehealth.

If a Florida licensee provides Telehealth to a client in another state, the clinician  is bound by laws pertaining to practice in both Florida and the state the client is in.  Telehealth is NOT approved in all states.

Important requirements for Florida 491 licensees providing Telehealth:

  • Florida law does not allow Telehealth to be provided using telephones that are audio only, emails, or faxes
  • Although Florida law does NOT ordinarily allow registered interns to practice Telehealth, during the COVID-19 health emergency the standards were relaxed to allow registered interns to practice Telehealth for a limited time-frame; and with strict guidelines regarding supervision and safety plans
  • HIPAA has specific guidelines and regulations regarding the type of technology (platform) we use to provide Telehealth services as well as required Business Associate Agreements with vendors
  • During the COVID-19 national health emergency, HIPAA will not impose penalties for clinicians providing Telehealth in good faith who do not meet HIPAA requirements 100%
  • When providing services via Telehealth, our Code of Ethics requires that both clinician and client understand limits of confidentiality  as well as the technology and equipment needed
  • A telehealth provider has the duty to practice in a manner consistent with his or her scope of practice and the prevailing professional standard of practice for a health care professional who provides in-person health care services to patients in this state

It is vital that clinicians understand legal, ethical, and standards of practice requirements regarding Telehealth  in order to protect our clients as well as our own license to practice. 

New Florida legislation holds that alternating biennial renewal periods, a 491 FL licensee shall complete either an Ethics & Boundaries Course or a Telehealth Course.  A.A. Ross Counseling offers a Telehealth Course that meets these requirements.