The Texas State Medical Board’s move in April to require that citizens visit their doctors in person first before using telemedicine stymies innovative in health care.
Across the country, thousands of people are desperate for accessible and affordable healthcare. For far too many of them, their only option—even for non-emergency care—is a $1,500 visit to the emergency room.
For example, 200 counties in Texas are considered medically underserved with 16 counties having just one primary care doctor and 27 counties having none. These citizens have nowhere to turn.
The good news is that a solution exists. It is called telehealth and has been increasing in use across the country over the last decade. However, a decision last month by the Texas State Medical Board will sharply restrict access for Texans by requiring in-person visits before you are allowed to use telemedicine. Previously, the board required doctors to establish a relationship with patients before giving a diagnosis or prescribing drugs, but its April 10 decision narrowed rules to state that “questions and answers exchanged through email, electronic text, or chat or telephonic evaluation or consultation with a patient” are not enough to establish a doctor-patient relationship.