From work and home to shopping and medical, we have become an increasingly digital society. While undeniably convenient, the push to digital hit new levels when COVID-19 redefined the boundaries of society around the world. As a result, the use of videoconferencing tools like Zoom and Microsoft Teams became virtually indispensable for work, social, play and even medicine, overnight.
To treat patients from the safety of their home, many have turned to the use of telemedicine or telehealth. For employers, this change is creating new rules for FMLA regarding how the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) considers telemedicine as in-person treatment, according to a recent article from Lexology.com.
According to guidance from the DOL, a telemedicine visit may qualify as a health care provider visit to support FMLA leave. FMLA regulations define treatment as an “in-person visit to a health care provider.” Leave by eligible employees working for covered employers is eligible for several things including care for family members with serious health conditions or one’s own serious health conditions. This includes seeking “continuing medical treatment by a health care provider.”
Under the recent guidance from DOL, treatment can now include videoconferences. Emails, letters, phone calls and text messaging alone are not considered treatment under FMLA.
Qualifications for In-person via Videoconference
- Includes an examination, evaluation, or treatment by a health care provider,
- Is permitted by state licensing authorities; and
- Is performed by videoconference.
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