Going forward, medicine will have to ask of telemedicine’s new, broader role in health care: Is it here to stay? Or is its rise merely the product of temporary, extraordinary circumstances? Physicians tell Texas Medicine that depends how telemedicine will be regulated and paid for.
As COVID-19 spreads through our communities, there are steps you can take to minimize contactwith patients. A primary step is to implement telemedicine. TMA has developed some quick tips to help you get started.
Vendors and Evaluation Criteria
Policies, Procedures and Forms
Laws and Regulations
Telemedicine and Patients
Remote Patient Monitoring
Insurers to Cover Visits Governor Abbott waived certain regulations and directed the Texas Department of Insurance (TDI) to issue an emergency rule relating to telemedicine provided through state-regulated insurance plans. Contracted or preferred physicians and other health care professionals will be eligible for payment from TDI-regulated insurance plans for medical visits they conduct over the phone instead of in person at the same rate they would receive for in-person visits.
HIPAA Restrictions Suspended Effective immediately, the U.S. Health and Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights will not penalize physicians for noncompliance with HIPAA when they serve patients in good faith through common, nonpublic-facing communications technologies, such as FaceTime or Skype.
Medicare Telehealth Expands The Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has temporarily broadened telehealth access to Medicare patients. Medicare can pay for office visits furnished via telehealth in all areas of the country (not only rural areas) and in any setting, including in a patient’s home. Physicians may reduce or waive cost-sharing for telehealth visits paid by federal health care programs.
Learn More About These Changes
The following list reveals the key functionality of the various telemedicine products as reported by the vendors on their own websites. TMA has not vetted these companies but wanted to provide information for physicians seeking to implement telemedicine into their practice. This list is not exhaustive and is separated by companies offering stand-alone products and those that have electronic health record (EHR) integrations.
Be sure to execute a business associate agreement with the telemedicine vendor.
View the Vendor Details
Telemedicine has the opportunity to transform a physician’s practice. As the service becomes more readily available through health plans and employers, patients are expecting more from their own physician. It makes sense for a patient to have the choice to see their own doctor for continuity of care and comfort in times of illness and uncertainty.
TMA created this evaluation tool to help Texas physicians with some of the criteria to consider in the selection of telemedicine vendor products.
See the Telemedicine Vendor Evaluation Criteria
Administration and Billing
Health Plans Extend Telemedicine, Cost-Share Waivers
Payer's Coronavirus Changes and Waivers
Payer Policies for Telemedicine Services
Insurance Payments for Telemedicine Visits Extended to September
Which Plans Pay for Telemedicine Services – and for How Long?
Telemedicine Billing Tips: Which Codes to Use and When
Telephone-Only Consultation Coverage and Payment Vary
Audio-Only Telehealth: Who Submits Corrected Claims?
Help Your Patients Help You with Telemedicine
Let Your Patients Know You Use Telemedicine
Are You Ready for Telemedicine Prime Time?
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) will allow physicians to issue prescriptions for all schedule II-V controlled substances via telemedicine as long as specific conditions are met.
Safely Incorporate Remote Patient Monitoring Into Your Practice
Want to Add Remote Patient Monitoring to Your Telemedicine Services?
How well do you understand Texas’ laws and regulations relating to telemedicine? This document describes the new Texas legal and regulatory requirements that apply to a physician providing telemedicine medical services.
This white paper was updated in August 2019.
Don't miss out on free CME for TMA members. This publication qualifies for 1.5 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits™.
Read the White Paper
The Texas Medical Association (TMA) joined The Physicians Foundation, American Medical Association, Florida Medical Association, and Massachusetts Medical Society in launching The Telehealth Initiative to help physicians start telehealth care. With the current health crisis, the organizations sped the initiative’s launch to help physicians shift to telehealth to meet patients’ needs from their homes where they cannot transmit COVID-19 or other diseases to other people.
The COVID-19 pandemic has made telemedicine the way to see and consult with all patients, not just those who have confirmed or suspected cases.
To make telemedicine available to more patients and their physicians during the emergency declaration period, many state and federal rules and regulations regarding telehealth have changed
A growing number of physicians are embracing telemedicine.
Because most physicians still have no first-hand experience with it, they have many questions about how it will help them and their patients.
Telemedicine is rapidly evolving, and the number of physicians who use it continues to grow.
Whether you use telemedicine every day in your practice or you’re just starting to consider how it might benefit your patients, you probably have plenty of questions and concerns about using it effectively and within compliance.
That’s why the Texas Medical Association formed a task force that will help TMA serve physicians who want to integrate telemedicine into their practice.
COVID-19 Telemedicine Deadlines for Doctors
Texas Medical Board FAQs Regarding Telemedicine During COVID-19 Crisis
Telehealth Remote Communications During COVID-19 - HHS.gov
Medicare Telehealth FAQs re: COVID-19 - CMS
Medicare Telemedicine Health Care Provider Fact Sheet - CMS
Go to the TMA COVID-19 Resource Center
Read the statement by TMA President Diana L. Fite, MD, regarding Gov. Greg Abbott’s announcement that Texas’ state-regulated health plans will continue to pay physicians and health care providers the same rate for patients’ telemedicine care as for in-person care, through the end 2020.
View the TMA YouTube Telehealth Playlist.
Telemedicine During COVID-19 Listen to this webinar to learn telemedicine terminology and the CMS changes, such as what codes you can bill during this time. On Demand WebinarCME to GoPodcast
Quick Tips: Getting Started in Telemedicine Incorporate telemedicine amid COVID-19.CME to GoPodcast
Telemedicine: The Changing Shape of CareExplore the practice benefits of telemedicine.On Demand Webinar
How to Have a Virtual Professional PresencePlay this webinar to learn simple things you can do to avoid diminishing your professional presence. On Demand Webinar
TMA members are eligible for a free technology contract review from Coker Group – including a contract review of telemedicine vendor services. Evaluations focus on potentially unfavorable terms with feedback on identified concerns.
Submit Your Contract
Have questions about telemedicine? Call or email the Knowledge Center.