The Texas Medical Board and Teladoc have been battling for seven years, and through several rounds of litigation over whether a patient relationship can be established for purposes of providing telemedicine services without an initial face-to-face or in-person visit. This all changed when Texas governor, Greg Abbott, signed Senate Bill 1107, which will take effect immediately if approved by two thirds of the members of the Texas legislature or on September 1, 2017 if not approved for immediate effect.
The ATA Telehealth Morning Update reported on Thursday, June 1, 2017, that Texas, which was the last state in the country to insist that personal contact was required to establish a valid physician patient relationship, has now resolved these issues.
Senate Bill 1107 provides the following:
a. The Bill allows the establishment of a physician patient relationship by either
1. Synchronous audio visual interaction, or
2. Asynchronous store and forward interaction when used in conjunction with synchronous audio, which could obviously be a telephone or video conferencing, as long as relevant video or photographic images are available or other relevant medical records.
b. The Bill excludes telemedicine medical services for prescribing abortifacient drugs or devices.
c. The Bill prohibits insurers from excluding services solely because they were provided by telemedicine means.
d. The Bill allows insurers to exclude services that are solely provided by audio, text or faxed methods of communication.