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Telehealth for behavioral health care

Obtaining informed consent for telebehavioral health

Most states require you to get your patient’s official informed consent before you can provide treatment using telehealth. Because each state has varying requirements for informed consent, it is a good rule of practice to always get consent before a telehealth visit.

Patients can give informed consent through signed paperwork completed before the appointment and/or through verbal consent at the beginning of each session.

If someone else is joining the visit, such as a caregiver or another provider, the additional participant must also provide consent.

There are several basic steps you should follow to record informed consent:

  • Reassure the patient that the information shared during the call is private.
  • Discuss with children and adolescents that they can share confidential information that you will not share with their parents or guardians.
  • Outline the only circumstances when information may be shared with a caregiver, associate, or other entity.
  • Explain to the patient what information you do and do not have access to (for example, the electronic medical record or state prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP).
  • If the patient may have a history of substance use disorder, explain that this information will not be included in their medical record without additional consent.
  • Discuss the importance of finding a private and quiet place for the appointment and the use of headphones if needed to ensure privacy.
  • Confirm that other members of the household are respecting the patient’s need for privacy.

If you are a provider associated with a practice, unit, or facility that provides substance use disorder services, you will need additional patient consent to share information with other providers.

For more information visit Disclosure of Substance Use Disorder Patient Records: Does Part 2 Apply to Me?

Tip: Make sure to have your medical and intake forms reviewed by your legal team.

More about informed consent: