New Texas law supports school-based telemedicine

A new law in Texas going into effect Sept. 1 will allow school-based telemedicine visits for children covered by Medicaid, reports The Texas Tribune.

The school-based telemedicine programs would be modeled after that of the Children's Health hospital system in North Texas, which recently expanded its program to 57 schools.

State Rep. Jodie Laubenberg, the bill's author, has argued that parents shouldn't have to take off work and children shouldn't miss school in order to see a doctor.

A school nurse would oversee the video chat, using tools such as an electronic stethoscope allowing the doctor to hear a child's heartbeat, and a digital otoscope for looking into a child's ear, according to the article.

If the doctor prescribes medication, parents could pick up the prescription from their preferred pharmacy on their way home from work.

Other school-based telemedicine programs are expected to follow, the article adds. Texas Tech University's medical school has run a school-based telemedicine clinic for more than a decade.

The question arises, however, about care for children not covered by Medicaid, according to the article. And critics worry that providers will be operating without a full health history, including allergies, for the children they see. In addition, parents who will be required to sign myriad consent forms at the beginning of the school year might not fully understand what they're permitting.

The Texas law is just another example of growing use of health IT in schools. A Southeast Minnesota Beacon Community project brought together parents, physicians and schools to better manage children's asthma. It created a way to store parental permissions and used a secure, locally hosted portal to enable messaging between the parties.

Meanwhile, Nemours Children's Health System in Delaware has given school nurses access read-only to records for more than 1,500 students with complex conditions and special needs.

To learn more:
- read the article

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