The Texas Medical Association has long supported telemedicine and believes that harnessing advancing technologies to deliver quality care holds great promise for both patients and physicians in the coming years. At the same time, these services should adhere to accepted medical standards of care and best practices for both diagnosing and prescribing. Telemedicine is the practice of medicine.
Various service models have sprung up in recent years, some on a subscription basis and increasingly as part of employee benefit plans. In fact, many of the models and protocols for telemedicine have been pioneered by Texas medical school schools, most notably The University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston and the Texas Tech Health Science Center.
Telemedicine in Texas takes on various forms, but the key to its use is the ability to access and utilize multiple modes of communication and data collection: audio, video, store and forward technology and accessing patient information in the "cloud."
Telemedicine has become quite established for specialty consultations, for follow-up care, and increasingly for monitoring patients with chronic conditions, in both rural and urban areas.
Entering a discussion of telemedicine legislation for 2017, TMA has established three core principles:
- Licensure: The practice of medicine occurs where the patient is receiving treatment, not where the physician is. Physicians providing care in this manner to patients in Texas must be licensed in Texas.
- Adherence to established standards of care: The standard of care for telemedicine is same as for in-person care.
- Payment: A medically necessary and covered service should be paid for regardless of how it is provided.
Generally, legislation should answer the question: How do we provide for the establishment of a new patient-physician relationship in a telemedicine environment that adheres to the standards of care in order to write a valid prescription.
TMA has been working throughout the past year with the Texas Academy of Family Physicians (TAFP) and the Texas e-Health Alliance (TeHA) in crafting legislation. The general goal has been to answer the specific question above, develop a consensus approach that addresses TMA's core principles, and provides for a smaller regulatory footprint that encourages innovation in accordance with standards of care.
Texas physicians support the safe and appropriate use of the latest technology for our patients, to bring high quality medical care to those who might otherwise not receive it.
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Last Updated On
February 03, 2017