Telehealth and Workers’ Compensation – Employee Benefits and Compensation

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In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, state agencies involved in the administration of workers’ compensation claims have altered or completely shifted course with respect to the use of electronic means of communication – the telehealth – between authorized medical providers and injured workers.

In Ohio, after the declaration of a state of emergency on March 9, 2020, the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation (“BWC”) responded by allowing various forms of telehealth as an approved way for providers to provide care to injured workers. The basis for this new flexibility in care delivery was that medical providers could determine the best way to provide care to injured workers while reducing unnecessary exposure to COVID-19. The BWC now uses multiple mediums, including telemedicine (audio and video) and telephone (audio only), to deliver telehealth services. Similarly, other state agencies changed the way telehealth could be provided and paid for in a workers’ compensation claim.

Telehealth is convenient because it saves time and money. However, now that in-person medical assessments are widely available, the employer representative can criticize the value of telehealth at hearings by raising credibility issues and attacking the examiner’s findings because the telehealth visit between a physician and an injured worker involves no actual physical examination or orthopedic test results beyond what can only be seen or heard.

The content of this article is intended to provide a general guide on the subject. Specialist advice should be sought regarding your particular situation.

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