Texas Senate Bill Tackles Huge Telemedicine Hurdle

Posted May 16, 2017

After a six-year conflict between the Texas Medical Board and Teladoc, Texas lawmakers just removed a state rule requiring providers to have a face-to-face consultation before providing telemedicine services. This changes the game for residents in who and how those patients access healthcare.

[BACKGROUND]

In 2011, the Texas Medical Board sent a letter to Teledoc stating that certain practices had violated the agency’s rules about establishing “a proper professional relationship with the patient” and threatened disciplinary action. Teledoc sued, arguing that the letter overstated existing rules.

As part of the actions against Teledoc, TMB had attempted to revoke the licenses of doctors working for the company and tried to bar them from providing services. A 2014 opinion from the Texas Court of Appeals however decided that TMB’s claim was invalid and ruled in favor of Teledoc.

[2017]

Several years and lawsuits later, the Texas Senate has amended SB1107 to remove the requirement of face-to-face consultations if the provider has never seen the patient.

Section 111.004
[ (5)     require a face to face consultation between a patient and a physician providing a telemedicine medical service within a certain number of days following an initial telemedicine medical service only if the physician has never seen the patient].

This is a huge leap forward for Telemedicine in Texas as it enables providers in the state to use the technology more freely and closer to its potential by reaching more patients, especially in underserved areas. It’s important to note that while this piece of text is scrapped, it is on the condition that patients will continue to receive care that is on par with an in-person visit.

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