Texas, Arkansas move toward modernizing telemedicine regs


Arkansas and Texas, two states with the “most dated regulatory regimes” for telemedicine, have moved toward modernizing their regulations, according to a Forbes article by Kofi Jones, vice president of government affairs at telehealth vendor American Well.

After the Texas Hospital Association, the University of Texas, American Well, Teladoc and Cisco Systems hashed out their differences in a meeting last month, the group now known as the Texas eHealth Alliance has submitted a bill to the Texas legislature, MobiHealthNews reports. It does not go into session until January.

The Texas Medical Board and Teledoc have wrangled in court since 2011, largely over the definition of  "face-to-face" in the board’s requirement of a defined physician-patient relationship.

The draft bill still calls for a “valid practitioner-patient relationship,” though that can be established by videoconferencing or other synchronous technology. It cannot be by phone, fax, email, text message or Internet consultation.

The Arkansas Medical Board last month also approved new telemedicine rules allowing that relationship to be established through “real-time audio and video technology.”

The Administrative Rules and Regulations Subcommittee of the state Legislative Council discussed the proposed regulations, but sent them to the public health committee after a Teledoc lobbyist raised concerns that language on store-and-foreword technology had been added after a public comment period ended, according to the Southwest Times Record.

American Well's Jones said the regulations are expected to go back to the Administrative Rules subcommittee next month, and the overall law will have to be reviewed in the coming legislative session.

To learn more:
- read the Forbes article
- here’s the MobiHealthNews story
- here's the Texas draft bill
- check out the Arkansas bill's draft