According to one recent survey, telemedicine services (i.e., remote delivery of healthcare services using telecommunications technology) among large employers (500 or more employees) grew from 18% in 2014 to 59% in 2016. Common selling points touted by telemedicine vendors include reduced health care costs and employee convenience. However, state licensure laws imposing restrictions on telemedicine practitioners can often limit the value (or even availability) of telemedicine services to employees.
But that seems to be changing.
Texas Law Change
This summer Texas passed legislation (SB 1107) prohibiting regulatory agencies with authority over a health professional from adopting rules pertaining to telemedicine that would impose a higher standard of care than the in-person standard of care. With the enactment of SB1107, the Texas Medical Board must revise portions of its existing telemedicine regulations, which had largely been viewed as some of the most restrictive in the country. Key revisions proposed by the Board at its July meeting included the elimination of the following requirements:
- Patient must be physically in the presence of an agent of the treating telemedicine practitioner
- Physical examination of the patient by the telemedicine practitioner in a traditional office setting within the past twelve months
- Interaction between the patient and telemedicine practitioner must be via live video feed
However, it appears that the Board will continue its prohibition against the use of telemedicine for prescribing controlled substances for the treatment of chronic pain.
Prescribing Controlled Substances
Meanwhile other states have relaxed their rules relating to