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Provider Implications of the Texas Telemedicine Policy

| Dec 27, 2017 | Health Care |

All over the United States, the telemedicine sector of healthcare has grown into an important component of medical treatment. It offers choice, convenience and access to consumers while paring down overhead and easing staffing stress.

Now that Texas is a telemedicine state, Texas can benefit from what many states have already sanctioned. The new Texas regulation allows physicians to treat patients they have not previously evaluated in person via telemedicine. It gives patients greater access to medical care, including mental health, with some notable restrictions.

Requirements For Telemedicine Providers

Fulfilling the following requirements enables a Texas physician to initiate a provider-patient relationship without personally evaluating the patient previously:

  • Giving the same standard of in-person care to the patient by obtaining and utilizing pertinent clinical information
  • Telemedicine encounters must be thoroughly documented just as in-office appointments
  • Sending an encounter report within 72 hours to the primary care provider of the patient

Mandated Communication Methods

Clinics that wish to provide telemedicine services must communicate with patients via a secure online platform with audio and video, or use an online message storage system that forwards text and images to the treating provider. In the case of the second option, a phone call is also required as part of the clinical encounter.

Staffing Requirements

The flexible staffing requirements accommodated by the telemedicine bill mean that a variety of clinics will potentially be able to offer telemedicine services. Physicians, as well as physician assistants and nurse practitioners under the supervision of a medical doctor, can provide telemedicine services to patients.

Limits Imposed By The New Law

Physicians in Texas do not need to worry about being displaced by out of state providers because the law limits practicing doctors in this fast-growing niche of medicine to those with a Texas license. The Texas Medical Board also added limits to chronic pain treatment via telemedicine in the final law. Also, providers are banned from prescribing anything to induce aborting a fetus medically.

As implementation of telemedicine increases around Texas, there are bound to be issues around regulatory requirements that require legal adjudication. However, the new telemedicine policy is a good start to bring choice, accessibility and cost savings to Texans.

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