Wisconsin Emergency Order 16 Telehealth Guidance

April 02, 2020 12:19 PM | Sally Winkelman (Administrator)

The Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services has received numerous inquiries regarding Emergency Order 16 and the status of telemedicine/telehealth practice as a result of the COVID-19 public health emergency.  

The emergency order covers a wide range of issues across many health care professions. The order took action that will make it easier to quickly expand the health care workforce by readmitted those with expired licenses and by welcoming providers from other states. It will also enhance flexibility so providers can more effectively respond to areas of greatest need. DSPS created a Frequently Asked Questions document to provide additional clarifications.  Both Emergency Order 16 and the FAQ document address individuals who have expired licenses and wish to return to practice.

The practice of telehealth is generally allowed under existing Wisconsin law unless there is some profession-specific requirement or restriction. Credential holders must use their professional judgment to determine if telehealth is appropriate for the patient or client being treated, to abide by all other applicable rules of practice and professional conduct, and to be properly credentialed or authorized to practice in the state of Wisconsin. If someone can practice in Wisconsin via an Emergency Order, a compact, or a temporary or permanent license, that individual can practice telehealth in Wisconsin and provide services to Wisconsin residents to the same extent as similarly licensed Wisconsin practitioners.       

The Wisconsin Medical Examining Board has the only telemedicine rule currently in effect in Wisconsin. This rule may be found at Wis. Admin. Code Med chapter 24 (link). While this rule applies only to the Medical Examining Board, many of the concepts in this rule may be informative to credential holders in other professions.  Note that portions of this rule were suspended when Governor Evers issued Emergency Order 16. Please review both Med chapter 24 as well as the statutory and rule provisions governing your profession when evaluating telemedicine/telehealth practice options during the COVID-10 public health emergency.

If practice-related questions arise, DSPS encourages credential holders to consult with a supervisor, with their own private or institutional legal counsel, with their colleagues within the profession, or other sources familiar with their profession’s standards of practice. Profession-related statutes and rules can be found by clicking on a profession under the Rule/Statutes column here.

Also, there have been recent changes to Medicaid reimbursement of telehealth services. The Wisconsin Department of Health Services issued guidance on telehealth reimbursement changes and status during the COVID-19 public health emergency. The Office of the Commissioner of Insurance has also sent this letter regarding related insurance (malpractice) issues to insurers.

This information will be posted to the DSPS website. Please visit often, as we are updating it daily as decisions are made and new information is available.