Lawmakers set to approve telehealth standards in Michigan

Patients can see a doctor through their phone or tablet with Spectrum Health's MedNow service. (Nov. 30, 2015)

LANSING, Mich. (AP) — Michigan lawmakers are poised to approve legislation that would set standards for the emerging telemedicine industry.

A bill up for a final vote Tuesday in the state Senate would require medical providers to obtain a patient’s consent before providing telehealth services from a distance rather than meeting a patient in person. Other provisions would prescribe standards and allow the state to promulgate telehealth rules.

Physicians increasingly are using a webcam so a patient can consult with them, including through the use of Bluetooth-connected medical devices.

The legislation is intended to lay a foundation for the practice of telemedicine in Michigan, according to the nonpartisan House Fiscal Agency.

Supporters say telemedicine contains costs, helps with medical staffing shortages and increases access to care, especially for those in rural or underserved areas.