Texas Adopts Telemedicine Rules
In September the Texas Medical Board revised and released new rules changing how telemedicine providers in Texas will be allowed to treat patients. Texas was perhaps the final large market without regulation for video medical consultations.
Among other things, the new release abolishes the provision that a “patient site presenter” must be made available for anyone being treated for a new condition online. In addition, the requirement that providers see patients in person before treating them online has been removed. In their place is a new rule that a health professional must “establish a practitioner-patient relationship.” The nature of that relationship is not specified, which of course opens the door for such relationships to be entirely virtual.
The rules are consistent with a new state law (passed in May) that allows virtual care providers to use virtual connections without meeting in person first. This issue gained public awareness when the TMB informed Teladoc that it could not provide virtual services without in-person visits. This was in 2011.
Our new regulations might affect as many as 28 million patients in Texas, many in rural areas.
These new regulations are not a surprise to anyone. There has been a lot of negotiating and discussion back and forth with the advent of such virtual health care services. These rules pave the way for that industry to grow in Texas. Certainly provisions are in place to ensure that virtual providers have the same medical licenses and qualifications as traditional providers.
Like the law, the rules also require that telemedicine providers in Texas have Texas medical licenses. “The rules very closely adhere to how these terms are defined in the statute,” said Nathaniel Lacktman, chairman of law firm Foley & Lardner’s Telemedicine Industry Team. “Providers should embrace them and respect how swiftly the medical board promulgated them and tailored them to align with and defer to the new statute.”