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I. What are the licensure requirements in Colorado for telehealth mental health care?

According to Colorado’s licensure requirements, every telehealth provider must have an active professional license in good standing before treating a patient located in Colorado at the time of the consult. This includes physicians, nurses, physician assistants, nurse practitioners, and licensed mental health professionals. A valid license is required because providing telehealth services counts as practicing medicine, a highly regulated activity.

Requirements for out-of-state treatment

Colorado has adopted several cross-state licensing agreements, including the Psychology Interjurisdictional Compact, the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact, the Physical Therapy Compact and the Nurses Licensure Compact. These agreements ensure the reciprocity of state licenses during remote health care sessions. To ensure traveling residents can access mental health care during the COVID-19 pandemic, therapists are temporarily allowed to offer telehealth services to Colorado residents who aren’t located in the state at the time of the consult.

Emergency licensure

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Colorado has suspended some of its telehealth requirements to ensure residents can access the care they need, even if they are quarantined. Physicians licensed in another state are allowed to provide occasional telehealth services to Colorado residents. The governor gave professionals with expired licenses the approval to return to work immediately, and out-of-state mental health care workers could practice in the state for up to 20 days.

II. What are the online prescribing regulations in Colorado?

To engage in online prescribing, an online psychiatrist must have a preexisting relationship with the patient. Under Colorado law, a pharmacist is prohibited from filling a prescription if he or she believes that it was issued without the required preexisting relationship. An in-person examination isn’t required to establish the required relationship; in some cases, providers establish a relationship by using audio or video equipment to deliver health care services. Practitioners must follow federal requirements regarding online prescribing of controlled substances. Under Colorado HB18-1279, health care providers must prescribe Schedule II, III, and IV controlled substances by transmitting an electronic prescription directly to a pharmacy.

III. What are other common telehealth restrictions in Colorado?

Colorado has several restrictions in place to ensure that patients receive adequate care, even when they can’t meet with their health care providers in person. Some of these restrictions relate to the types of services allowed, while others are related to the technology that providers can use to deliver telehealth services.

Types of telehealth services allowed

Practitioners are allowed to provide a variety of services via telehealth technology, provided those services can be rendered via telemedicine. This includes asking you questions about your symptoms, reviewing medical images, teaching you how to manage chronic health conditions, and diagnosing conditions that can be identified without an in-person examination. Practitioners must meet the required standard of care, document each encounter, and maintain adequate records for each patient.

Types of technology allowed

Physicians, nurses and other telehealth practitioners must use HIPAA-compliant technology to deliver services remotely. Several companies offer HIPAA-compliant telehealth tools, including Zoom for Healthcare, Cisco Webex, GoToMeeting, Skype for Business, and Spruce Health Care Messenger. Telehealth services may be delivered via telephone, provided the practitioner takes appropriate steps to protect each patient’s personal health information. Facebook, TikTok, Twitch, and similar applications aren’t secure, and Colorado law prohibits practitioners from using them to deliver telehealth services.

Emergency allowances

To ensure patients can receive needed medical services during the COVID-19 pandemic, regulators have made several exceptions to the existing telehealth requirements. Colorado’s Medical Practice Act allows physicians licensed in other states to provide occasional telehealth services to patients in Colorado without obtaining a Colorado medical license; however, these physicians must have active malpractice insurance. The Department of Health and Human Services has announced that it won’t impose penalties for providers who use technologies that aren’t 100% HIPAA-compliant.

IV. Telehealth provider resources in Colorado

Colorado telehealth regulations are regularly updated to ensure that providers can benefit from advances in technology without reducing the quality of care provided to patients. To stay abreast of changes in the law, visit the Colorado.gov website for legislative updates, the Colorado Medical Board website for information on changing licensure requirements, and the Health Care Compliance Association website for information on complying with applicable telehealth laws. For help choosing secure technology tools to deliver telehealth services, contact an IT consulting firm in your area.

Colorado Division of Professions and Occupations

The Colorado Division of Professions and Occupations is responsible for granting professional licenses in Colorado. This includes the licenses granted to physicians, nurses and other medical practitioners. Division employees can answer questions or provide referrals to other resources if you need help understanding new licensing requirements or telehealth laws.

Contact Information: Website | 303-894-7800

Colorado Division of Insurance

The Colorado Division of Insurance regulates the many types of insurance offered in Colorado, including professional malpractice insurance and health insurance. This agency is an excellent resource if you have questions about whether certain telehealth services are covered by private insurers. The Colorado Division of Insurance handles insurance-related appeals.

Contact Information: Website | 303-894-7499

Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment

The Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment provides various health-related services to ensure Colorado residents stay as healthy as possible. For physicians and other practitioners, the agency sometimes provides research grants that can be used to explore new ways of delivering medical care. The agency publishes utilization data to help practitioners stay abreast of advances in the medical field.

Contact Information: Website | 303-692-2000

V. Sources