The Texas Medical Board (the Board) voted last week to sharply restrict the practice of telemedicine in the state.  The rules adopted by the Board were the culmination of a four-year battle between the Board that licenses and regulates doctors in Texas and a national company based in Dallas that provides phone and video consultations with doctors on its staff.  While many states are moving in the direction of loosening restrictions on the use of telemedicine, Texas has taken the opposite approach.

The Texas Board already required doctors to establish an in-person relationship with patients before providing a diagnosis or prescribing drugs; however, the new rule now states that “questions and answers exchanged through email, electronic text, or chat or telephonic evaluation of or consultation with a patient” are inadequate to establish a physician-patient relationship.  The new restrictions limit the use of telemedicine but does not ban it.  Physicians may still treat patients by phone or video under certain situations, such as where a patient is being treated at a clinic or hospital and a telemedicine consultation by an additional physician is used. These new restrictions do not apply to mental health visits.

Texas is one of a few states that still require an in-person exam before a telemedicine consultation can take place. The new restrictions will take effect in June.