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Monday, April 13, 2015

Texas Medical Board Enacts New Telemedicne Rules

The Texas Medical Board (TMB) adopted strong new patient-protection rules regulating the practice of telemedicine and clarifying the board’s disciplinary guidelines. While expanding the locations where telemedicine services may be used and carving out certain exceptions for mental health care services, the new rules clarify that a face-to-face visit — either in person or via telemedicine — is required to establish a patient-physician relationship. Despite claims to the contrary from critics, the changes do not and are not intended to interfere with traditional on-call coverage arrangements, based on the board’s discussion during its meeting Friday. In our letter to TMB commenting on the proposed rules, we said, “TMA supports the use of telemedicine that can provide safe, high-quality, timely care to patients, particularly in areas of the state that have critical physician shortages. However, TMA believes that Texas must maintain appropriate safeguards to protect patients and ensure telemedicine complements the efforts of local health care providers.” Barring a court challenge and subject to any changes during the legislative session, the rules take effect June 3.

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