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Texas telemedicine war cools off



The telemedicine war  may be calming down in Texas.

It has been a year since the Lone Star State imposed controversial restrictions on telemedicine, in part because of pressure from physicians worried that telemedicine might cut into their income. The action spawned a lawsuit from Teladoc Inc., based in  Dallas.

Teladoc is a year-old telehealth company that uses telephone and videoconferencing technology to provide on-demand remote medical care via mobile devices, the Internet, video and phone. 

The state  last year banned physicians from making diagnoses or prescribing drugs over the telephone or Internet for any patient with whom they didn’t have an existing  in-person relationship.

But now The Texas Tribune reports that some healthcare and business groups, including Teladoc,  have met  about “modernizing our telemedicine statutes and reducing the regulatory footprint governing the provision of telemedicine services.” The groups hope to reach a compromise to submit to the Texas legislature next year.

To read The Texas Tribune article, please hit this link.



CVS plowing ahead in medicine on demand


Andrew Sussman, M.D., executive vice president and associate chief medical officer of CVS Health, discusses how the huge drugstore chain will continue to expand in an age of retail medical care as provided in its MinuteClinics.

As this Hospitals & Health Networks piece reports:

“Telehealth is one growth area that CVS is warming to as a way to provide low-cost services, and consumers are, too. Oliver Wyman’s study estimates that 57 percent of consumers are now familiar with the concept of a health and wellness visit conducted remotely via voice or video chat. Some 95 percent of CVS customers said they thought a telehealth visit was ‘just as good’ or ‘better’ than the traditional model, Dr. Sussman added.”

“CVS has partnered with three players in the telehealth space — Doctor on Demand, American Well and Teladoc — aiming to build out its capabilities. Pilots tied to those partnerships include making telehealth services available through the CVS app, having one company beam its doctors into CVS telehealth clinics to look at rashes and other superficial ailments or sending patients from a telehealth provider’s app into MinuteClinic if further in-person consultation is required.”

Texas battle with telemedicine


Teladoc, the telemedicine company, reaches 11 million people in America.

But, reports MedPage Today, “new rules from the Texas Medical Board could make it a lot harder for people…to get antibiotics through the service. In response to the board’s restrictions, Teladoc has filed a lawsuit that accuses the medical board of artificially limiting supply and increasing prices.

“The rules, as they’re written today, only allow a physician who has seen a patient in person to interact with them remotely. That’s basically saying you can’t go shop anywhere else,” the company said.

MedPage Today says “The rules do allow for certain exceptions that would permit a physician to diagnose or prescribe medications via phone or video. It would be OK, for example, if the patient were at a medical clinic, or another healthcare worker  was with the patient and could do a sort of surrogate exam. There’s also exemption for remote mental health visits.”

In any event, many well-established physicians see the likes of Teladoc  as financially threatening in some of the same ways they see retail clinics staffed by physician assistants, nurse practitioners and nurses  — but not physicians —  as threatening.

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