Alaska Telehealth Bill Would Allow Phone, Online Prescribing Visits

Joseph Conn | Modern Healthcare | May 7, 2014

Alaska may soon allow physicians to write prescriptions for many medications without an initial face-to-face encounter between the prescriber and the patient. A bill to allow the remote prescribing process passed on the final day of the state legislative session April 25 and is awaiting the signature of Alaska Republican Gov. Sean Parnell.

The measure's aim is to enable patients “to obtain over-the-phone or online consultations where physicians can diagnose and, if necessary, provide a prescription,” according to a release by its sponsor, State Rep. Lynn Gattis, a first-term Republican from Wasilla. The measure would mark a significant change from current state policy.

Alaska currently defines “unprofessional conduct” for a physician to include “prescribing, dispensing, or furnishing a prescription medication to a person without first conducting a physical examination of that person, unless the licensee has a patient-physician or patient-physician assistant relationship.”

Exceptions exist for emergency treatment, expediting partner therapy for sexually transmitted diseases and responding to an infectious-disease outbreak, bioterrorism or a public-health emergency...