The Texas Medical Board recently updated its telemedicine rules. Patients may now “visit” their doctors with a “face-to-face” visit held either in person or via telemedicine. Essentially the only scenario prohibited in Texas is one in which a physician treats an unknown patient using telemedicine, without any objective diagnostic data, and no ability to follow-up with the patient.
The rules authorize telemedicine to include patients receiving appropriate care from their homes, between multiple health care settings, and from other medical sites like a school nurse’s office, a fire station or even an oil rig. Once a physician has made an initial diagnosis of a patient through a face-to face visit (in-person or via telemedicine), the physician can treat that patient for their preexisting condition, via telemedicine, for up to one year in their home. The presence of another medical provider to assist in communicating the patient’s diagnostic information to the physician is only required for the initial consultation.
Importantly, the updated rules do not change traditional on-call coverage used by many physicians’ offices but those who are in the same medical specialty and provide reciprocal services may provide on-call telemedicine medical services for each other’s active patient.