FTC Staff Comment: Delaware Occupational Therapy Board Proposal to Expand Access to Telehealth Services Could Benefit Consumers

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Federal Trade Commission staff submitted a comment to the Delaware Board of Occupational Therapy Practice on its proposed regulation that would likely facilitate the provision of occupational therapy services to Delaware consumers. The proposed regulation would allow licensed occupational therapists (OT) to determine whether telehealth is an appropriate level of care for a patient, and allow OTs to determine the level of supervision required for the provision of telehealth services by OTAs.

Staff of the FTC’s Office of Policy Planning and its Bureaus of Competition and Economics, responding to the Board’s request for public comments, stated that by not imposing rigid and unwarranted in-person care and supervision requirements, the proposed telehealth regulation would likely benefit Delaware consumers. The comment offered suggestions for clarifying the role of OTAs during telehealth-based interactions, consistent with state law, and their role in determining whether to use telehealth.

“To the extent the proposed regulation facilitates telehealth delivery of occupational therapy services, it could enhance competition, access, and consumer choice, potentially reducing costs,” the comment stated. “In addition, the quality of care could be improved, especially for patients with limited mobility who have difficulty reaching in-person care.”

The Commission vote to issue the staff comment was 3-0. It was sent to the Delaware Board of Occupational Therapy Practice on August 3, 2016. (FTC File No. V160014; the staff contact is Karen A. Goldman, Office of Policy Planning, 202-326-2574).

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