Texas physicians and lawmakers worked together in 2017 to expand patient access to high-quality care through telemedicine by improving the reimbursement process, and establishing clear-cut policy and regulations. With the passage of a new state law in August 2017, Texas physicians and telehealth providers can operate as they would when seeing patients face-to-face in a traditional visit.
Presented at the Texas Medical Association 2017 Fall Conference, Sept. 16, 2017, as the Philip R. Overton Annual Lectureship in Medicine and the Law.
Over the past several years, static has clouded the screen displaying telemedicine's proper role in health care as musings, arguments, and litigation created a need for real clarity. Now that TMA and other stakeholders put their collective heads together, the picture should clear up significantly. On May 27, Gov. Greg Abbott signed Senate Bill 1107, which allows telemedicine practitioners in Texas to know their requirements when they serve patients via telephone or other audiovisual means.
Texas physicians and telehealth providers are now playing by the same rules to treat patients by phone, computer, and other new technologies — the same as when physicians see patients face-to-face in a traditional doctor’s office visit. Senate Bill 1107, passed this session by the Texas Legislature and signed into law by Gov. Greg Abbott in late May, clarifies the framework to evaluate, diagnose, and treat patients remotely via telecommunication technology.
Patients Will Have More Access to Physicians
Following the passage of TMA-supported legislation governing telemedicine in Texas, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) has closed an investigation into whether the Texas Medical Board (TMB) violated antitrust law, FTC said in a release.
Telemedicine Bill Would Uphold Good Patient-Physician RelationshipTestimony by Thomas Kim, MD, MPHHouse Bill 2697, March 28, 2017
Telemedicine Care Under Bill Would Match In-Person Medical Care StandardsTestimony Presented by Ray Callas, MD Senate Bill 1107, March 8, 2017
Improve Mental Health and Substance Abuse Issues; Telemedicine Can HelpInterim Testimony Presented by Thomas J. Kim, MD, MPHHouse Select Committee on Mental HealthApril 27, 2016
Telehealth: A Skill to be Mastered and a System to Be OptimizedTestimony by Thomas J. Kim, MD, MPHHouse Committee on Public HealthFeb. 10, 2016
Texas’ new telemedicine law and applicable rules have created new opportunities for physicians to care for patients outside the traditional office visit. Here are answers to three basic questions you might have. (Remember: When treating Medicare patients via telemedicine, follow Medicare rules.)
TMA, AMA: TMB Has Authority to Set Telemedicine Rules (Action, Aug. 1, 2016)
Seeking Invalidation: Telemedicine Company's Suit Claims TMB Rules Are Not Immune From Antitrust Challenge (Texas Medicine, April 2016)
Teladoc's Antitrust Suit Against TMB Moves Forward (Action, Jan. 5, 2016)
Federal Judge Sides with Teladoc, Blocks TMB Telemedicine Rule (Action, June 15, 2015)
TMB Resource Helps Clarify New Telemedicine Rules (Action, June 1, 2015)
TMB Rules: Telemedicine Requires In-Person Exam First (Action, April 15, 2015)
Medical Board Wages War Over Telephone Treatment (Texas Medicine, April 2015)
Court Blocks TMB's Emergency Telemedicine Rules (Action, Feb. 2, 2015)
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.
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