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Updated on May 26, 2020.  Medical content reviewed by Dr. Joseph Rosado, MD, M.B.A, Chief Medical Officer

Arkansas Medical Marijuana Telemedicine Laws

Telehealth is currently being allowed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This means applicants for a medical marijuana registry card must still submit a complete written certification form from a physician licensed in Arkansas, a patient application, a copy of the applicant’s Arkansas driver’s license or ID and the $50 processing fee. 

Rules governing telemedicine in Arkansas for prescribing medical marijuana are changing. Patients interested in getting a medical marijuana evaluation conducted in the privacy of their own home, or location of their choosing, can access it via a secure real-time, live-video connection here:

Arkansas law requires all insured plans, including Medicaid, Arkansas Works and State Employee plans to cover services provided via telemedicine technology.

In 2016, state officials changed their telemedicine laws to eliminate the mandate that a doctor and new patient first meet in person before using telehealth, while keeping in place guidelines that mandate the use of audio-visual technology. One year later, they amended the haw to include the patient’s home as an originating site for telehealth services.

Passed in April 2015, the Arkansas Code 17-80-117, instituted the requirement that, all physician-patient relationships, must be established in-person — telemedicine may not be used to satisfy this requirement, unlike many of the other states nationwide.

In October 2015, the Arkansas Medical Board proposed draft rules for consideration, with the intention of relaxing the State’s current telemedicine laws. The draft rules, circulated by the Board’s Committee, outlines its plan to improve the practice protocol by permitting physicians to establish a relationship with a patient “using a face-to-face real-time audio and visual technology”. Additionally, the draft rules require a bonafide provider-patient relationship be established, as such, the following applies to patient-physician relationships, established via telemedicine: health care practitioners are required to document and record the patient’s informed consent, received prior to commencing service; physicians may not issue prescriptions for controlled substances, without a prior in-person history and physical; within twenty-four hours of a patient’s appointment, physicians are required to send the patient a medical record document of the telemedicine encounter, via either email or postal mail; should the patient require an in-person consult relating to the present and existing medical condition, the treating physician is expected to refer the patient to an appropriate medical facility/provider, with accompanying medical documentation of the patient’s chart recommendation; additionally, all telemedicine consultation’s will be required to be of the same standard of care, as in-person consultations; all telemedicine consultations will be required to include a documented statement advising that the patient seek to establish a physician-patient relationship with a primary care advisor, with whom the patient is advised to seek follow-up care; all physicians who will be providing telemedicine consultations to patients in Arkansas, will have to be licensed to practice medicine, in the state of Arkansas; and upon request, all doctors practicing telemedicine will be required to handover the patient’s complete medical record, to the Arkansas State Medical Board.

To date, no parity laws have yet been enacted in Alabama, that would require private payers to recognize and reimburse telemedicine services at the same rates as the equivalent health care service provided in-person — however, Arkansas Medicaid recognizes and reimburses telemedicine encounters, provided that take place in real-time.

All out-of-state health care practitioners intending to provide telemedicine services, to patients geographically situated in the state of Arkansas must first obtain either a full medical license or a special purpose license, from the Arkansas Medical Board, prior to commencing service — however, physician-to-physician (P2P) exemptions apply.

Arkansas — along with Alabama and Texas — has the strictest requirements for delivering telemedicine services, as compared to in-person health care.

Useful Resources

HIPAA is a federal law that protects the privacy of identifiable patient information, requires electronic and physical security standards related to the storage and use of PHI, and establishes standard transactions and code sets to simplify billing and other electronic transactions. HIPAA standards were updated in 2009 by the implementation of the HITECH Act and again in 2013 by the HIPAA Omnibus Rule. In accordance with HIPAA standards, is HITECH and BAA certified, and has put in place measures to protect the confidentiality of health information in any form, whether written, oral, or electronic.

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