Texas and Telehealth: New Bill Would Remove Toughest Hurdle for Practitioners

Houston Medical Times April 2017

Theresa E. Thompson authored an article in the Houston Medical Times, titled “Texas and Telehealth: New Bill Would Remove Toughest Hurdle for Practitioners.”

Following is an excerpt (see below to download the full article in PDF format):

In recent years, Texas has served as ground zero for a number of the most contentious legal battles surrounding telehealth. In early March, Texas State Senator Charles Schwertner, the chairman of the Committee on Health and Human Services and an orthopedic surgeon, submitted a bill signifying progress for telemedicine and telehealth providers looking to practice in the Lone Star State. The bill, S.B. 1107, would remove one of the toughest hurdles for telemedicine and telehealth practitioners – the face-to-face meeting requirement. Providers would be able to provide services to, and establish practitioner-patient relationships with, Texas residents through either a synchronous audio-visual interaction or via store-and-forward technology and a synchronous audio-only interaction, without ever having to meet the patient in real life. Although it would prohibit agencies from creating any higher standard of care for telemedicine or telehealth services than is required in an in-person setting, the bill would require the practitioner to use the relevant clinical information required to meet the same standard of care as practitioners providing in-person services. The store-and-forward technology and synchronous audio-only method of establishing a practitioner patient relationship would additionally require the practitioner to use clinically relevant photographic or video images, the patient’s relevant medical records, or another form of audiovisual telecommunication technology that would allow the practitioner to comply with the standard of care.