Telemedicine: What It Is & How It Affects Licensure
With the advent of mass telecommunications, the medical industry has reached a whole new frontier of practice. As information sharing, cloud-based computing, and videoconferencing technology all improve at a rapid pace, a doctor’s ability to provide care and diagnosis remotely has been revolutionized. This phenomenon has been called “telemedicine,” or “telehealth.”
Telemedicine allows a doctor to provide consultations and precise diagnosis remotely to people anywhere in the world. It also allows top doctors to collaborate directly with other specialists on cases, sharing insights and methods to improve the practice of medicine. The benefit for remote patients: rural locations can receive high-quality care from any doctor in the world. However, this innovation brings new legal issues regarding licensures to light.
How Telemedicine Affects Licensure Issues
In 2015, Teladoc, a telehealth company based in New York, filed a lawsuit against the Texas Medical Board for requiring in-person consultations before allowing telemedicine sessions. Their case rests on antitrust laws—which is what has kept their case from being dismissed as the TMB originally hoped. Cases like these may define the future of medicine in Texas, as the law has traditionally fought an uphill battle to keep pace with technology.
In most states, restrictions on telemedicine services are common. For example, face-to-face consultations or “valid” telemedicine consultations are required to prescribe medication to patients. Additionally, doctors offering services across state lines must earn a special license to do so—for every state in which they want to practice. However, certain states with restrictive licensure laws may allow exceptions.
For doctors in Texas serving multiple states (or for doctors wanting to provide telemedicine in Texas), the licensing process can be costly and burdensome. For each license, a practitioner might have to travel to the state for multiple interviews, pass oral and written exams, and complete other robust tests designed for in-state practitioners—even if they never plan on practicing face-to-face medicine there.
How Hendershot, Cowart & Hisey, P.C. Can Help
At Hendershot, Cowart & Hisey, P.C., our Houston medical licensure attorneys ensure that doctors are able to provide the care patients need. We have more than 150 years of collective experience guiding medical professionals through a variety of business and practice obstacles. We have helped hundreds of physicians comply with the Texas Medical Board, defended their licenses from accusation, and ensured that they were able to practice medicine uninterrupted.
If you are a telehealth provider, call our team of attorneys today for counsel at (713) 909-7323.