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.)
1. What technology do I need for telemedicine?
Texas law says you may provide telemedicine services through:
- Real-time audiovisual interaction between you and the patient (for example, a simple digital camera on a laptop or a desktop with secure broadband internet; peripherals such as digital scopes add to the experience);
- Store-and-forward technology, as long as you use clinical information from clinically relevant photographic or video images, including diagnostic images, or the patient’s relevant medical records; or
- Another form of audiovisual technology that allows you to satisfy the accepted standard of care.
Like all hardware, software, devices, and applications in your practice, those you use for telemedicine must comply with state and federal privacy and security laws and rules.
This will be discussed in more detail at TMA's upcoming seminar on telemedicine.
2. Are initial in-person visits mandatory?
No. The new Texas law removes the Texas Medical Board’s (TMB's) authorization to establish a blanket requirement for initial in-person visits. However, TMB is still authorized to make sure “patients using telemedicine services receive appropriate, quality care,” and the law still requires physicians to meet the same standard of care as that required for an in-person visit. Thus, if a physical exam or other aspect of an in-person visit would be required to meet the standard of care for an in-person visit, you should rule out using telemedicine. Some factors to consider:
- Treatment or diagnostic procedures,
- The quality of the visual exam,
- Access to historical diagnostics and medication history,
- Chronic conditions, and
- The need for a telepresenter.
3. Can the patient be at home for a telemedicine visit?
In short, yes. The new state law removed the requirement for a clinical place of service, as long as the standard of care is uncompromised. Previously, TMB imposed certain requirements based on the location of the patient. New rules remove the location distinctions, placing emphasis instead on establishing a patient-physician relationship and satisfying the standard of care.
Learn about incorporating telemedicine into your practice at TMA’s new half-day seminar and live webcast, Telemedicine: How to Implement Virtual Care and e-Visits in Your Practice (3.25 continuing medical education credits; 1 ethics credit). The seminar runs Feb. 6 through March 6 in various locations, and the webcast is on March 6. Registration is open.
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Last Updated On
September 19, 2018