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Telehealth NewsSignificant Rule Change in Texas

Significant Rule Change in Texas

January 21, 2015

The Texas Board of Medicine has just made a rather significant rule change. They've said that before telehealth can be used for patient care, the patient must be seen in person by the provider or referred to the telehealth provider by a primary care provider.

According to the unattributed report I saw on this rule change, the aim is to keep one company from providing care in the state. Of course, the rule won't affect only one company, but all organizations that provide dial-up care. In- and out-of-state providers will be affected. The rule was passed regarding virtual urgent care, but one must wonder what effect it will have on all telehealth provision in the state.

This is an interesting question that will undoubtedly be resolved in the courts. Some critics of dial-in telehealth providers express concern over accuracy of diagnoses and potential over-prescribing of antibiotics. (Of course, antibiotics are over-prescribed during in-person visits, too). Others contend that not knowing the patient can lead to problems with diagnosis. On the other hand, how much do in-person urgent care clinics know about walk-ins? Perhaps not much. A point in their favor is that in-person clinics can do lab tests to determine pathologies.

But one still needs to be aware that limiting one aspect of telehealth may have a negative impact on all telehealth. This will be an interesting situation to watch.

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