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Telemedicine Showdown in Texas

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at April 8, 2015

SHOWDOWN FOR TELADOC IN TEXAS : The Dallas-based telemedicine company has been growing by leaps and bounds in the past few years. It administered 300,000 patient visits by smartphone last year, and 150,000 already in the first quarter of 2015. But some states like Texas appear ready to put on the brakes. They view the company, which mostly operates over the telephone with the support of pictures, video and patient questionnaires, as potentially dangerous to patients. The Texas Medical Board is expected tomorrow to adopt a rule requiring doctors to see patients in person or through a webcam before treating via telemedicine. That would essentially end Teladoc’s treatment of patients in the state. In a recent interview with POLITICO, Teladoc CEO Jason Gorevic said his company is pulling out the stops in Texas, trying to draw physicians, employers, health plans and patient advocacy groups together to oppose the regulations, which he said “will really hinder the expansion of telemedicine rather than facilitate the adoption, and hurt access to care for Texans.” Gorevic challenges those who say medicine by phone isn’t good enough: “There are many things that don’t require a visualization. We’re relying on the physicians’ experience and clinical guidelines to make sure that patient safety is first and foremost.” Pros can read the whole interview here http://politico.pro/1y3qQeA

The Texas eHealth Alliance, meanwhile, seems unfriendly toward Teladoc’s peitition. While the Alliance advocates for the use of modern technology in healthcare, it wrote to the medical board, that there’s a difference between “a video consultation done with the appropriate level of technology as needed, and … as the rule states, ‘An online questionnaire or questions and answers exchanged through email, electronic text, or chat or telephonic evaluation of or consultation with a patient.’ This latter approach does not meet the definition of telemedicine as our organization recognizes it.”

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