Entrepreneurs are embracing the advantages technology can bring to traditional “brick and mortar” businesses. This is true in the healthcare setting as well. Teladoc is a company that connects patients and doctors over the telephone and internet. Earlier this year, the Texas Medical Board (“TMB”) issued rules regarding telemedicine. Teladoc filed suit to prevent the implementation of the new rules alleging, in part, antitrust implications against TMB. A temporary injunction has been issued by U.S. District Judge Robert Pitman to delay the new telemedicine rules.
TMB considers Teladoc’s practice of prescribing drugs to patients from telephone-only consultations to be prohibited. Physicians and nurse practitioners could be subject to suspension and/or revocation of their licenses for pursuing such activities. The court seems to have taken into account the shortage of physicians in rural areas or underserved populations. Improving access to healthcare evaluation and treatment cuts against limiting patient access to physicians and nurse practitioners. This debate is surely to continue as each side prepares for a hearing on the underlying injunction and legal issues.