In-person consult mandates provide hurdles to telemedicine

New state laws could have a "chilling effect" on the adoption of telemedicine, according to an article published at Government Technology.

It points specifically to the Texas Medical Board ruling in April that requires doctors to examine patients in person before being able to order prescriptions for them. Texas has joined Arkansas as the only two states with such requirements, according to the article.

The ruling resulted from a long-running feud with telemedicine provider Teladoc. Dale Alverson, medical director of the University of New Mexico's Center for Telehealth, tells Government Technology it potentially could be a form of retaliation.

The board has since clarified that an "in-person visit" can be an interactive video encounter using peripheral equipment to the computer to transmit diagnostic data to the physician. However, the rule requires a trained medical professional be present with the patient.

Greg Billings, executive director of the Center for Telehealth and e-Health Law, doesn't necessarily see other states following in this direction, but tells Government Technology that the Texas law could mean fewer telehealth visits take place in that state.

The District of Columbia and five states--Maine, New Hampshire, New Mexico, Tennessee and Virginia--were recognized as the most supportive areas for telemedicine policies in an updated analysis of state policies by the American Telemedicine Association. It looked at 13 indicators, including reimbursement parity laws (or lack, thereof). Connecticut and Rhode Island were the only two states to receive composite failing grades for telemedicine coverage and reimbursement efforts.

Meanwhile, a proposal published at Telemedicine and e-Health to use the Meaningful Use program to create a three-tiered incentive program to boost participation in telemedicine raises a lot of questions for FierceEMR's Marla Durben Hirsch.

To learn more:
- read the article