Texas Medical Board president defends telemedicine policies

There is a misconception that Texas is behind the times in terms of its telemedicine policy, when there actually are "very few telemedicine scenarios which are prohibited" in the Lone Star State, says Michael Arambula, M.D, president of the Texas Medical Board, in a recent op-ed in the Austin American-Statesman.

Arambula's comments are in response to a recent guest commentary by Alison Hern and John Davidson, both of the Texas Public Policy Foundation, that questions the medical board's adoption of regulations that would require a face-to-face visit with a physician before the patient can be treated via telehealth.

Such a ruling could negatively impact the ability for emergency responders to use telemedicine for emergency care in the state, Hern and Davidson write.

Arambula disputes those assertions, saying that the EMS telemedicine project "is an excellent example" of how the state does allow telehealth treatments.

"Under the existing rules telemedicine can absolutely be used to establish a physician-patient relationship without the patient having to see a physician in person," he says.

However, the main crux of the fight against the TMB's rulings on telemedicine are based around the fact that while a physician may see a patient via telemedicine without an initial in-person visit, they cannot prescribe medications without that face-to-face interaction.

That policy is the reason telemedicine provider Teladoc and the TMB have been wrangling in court for years. However, in July, a judge ruled in favor of Teladoc, issuing a temporary injunction against the board's rule, saying it is illegal because requiring in-person visits harms competition.

To learn more:
- read Arambula's commentary
- check out Herns and Davidson's piece