FTC Staff Comment: Proposal to Expand Access to Telehealth Services Could Benefit Delaware Speech and Hearing Patients

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Federal Trade Commission staff submitted a comment to the Delaware Board of Speech/Language Pathologists, Audiologists and Hearing Aid Dispensers on its proposed regulation that would allow telepractice in those fields but require an initial in-person evaluation.

Responding to the Board’s request for public comments, Staff of the FTC’s Office of Policy Planning and its Bureaus of Competition and Economics stated that allowing licensees to determine whether telepractice is an appropriate level of care could enhance consumer choice by providing an alternative to in-person care, potentially reducing travel expenditures and increasing both access to care and competition. However, because the proposed regulation does not include evaluations in its definition of telepractice, and would require that all initial evaluations be conducted in person, it may unnecessarily discourage the use of telepractice and limit its potential benefits.

Accordingly, FTC staff encourages the Board to consider whether the proposed regulation could be improved by broadening the proposed definition of telepractice to include evaluations, and by eliminating the prohibition on conducting initial evaluations by telepractice.

The Commission vote to issue the staff comment was 3-0. It was sent to the Delaware Board of Speech/Language Pathologists, Audiologists and Hearing Aid Dispensers on November 29, 2016. (FTC File No. V170001; the staff contact is Karen A. Goldman, Office of Policy Planning, 202-326-2574).

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