Last week, Teladoc Inc. dropped its federal antitrust lawsuit against the Texas Medical Board related to the Board’s requirement that a face-to-face encounter occurs prior to a telemedicine encounter in the state. In the lawsuit which began in 2015, Teladoc alleged that the Board’s rules were intended to stifle competition, particularly with respect to the in-person contact requirements of practitioners and patients, which favored and protected brick-and-mortar physicians while limiting the ability of physicians to provide remote healthcare. The Board published revised rule for comment in September, prompted in part by newly enacted legislation. Pursuant to the new regulations, which became effective last month, physicians may treat patients through telehealth without the necessity for a previous in-person visit.
Notwithstanding the new rules, providers still must provide the same standard of care during a telehealth encounter as they would in a face-to-face encounter. Moreover, prescription orders issued as a result of telemedicine encounters are held to the same standards as those governing an in-person visit. Telehealth practitioners must also maintain compliance with all patient privacy protections.
The standards for valid telemedicine encounters, the issuance of prescriptions resulting therefrom, and relevant reimbursement requirements vary by state. However, recent trends suggest a broad adoption and encouragement of telemedicine encounters in order to more conveniently provide treatment to patients while reducing overall healthcare costs. To learn more about telehealth and incorporate remote healthcare into your business model, contact Frier Levitt to speak to an attorney.