Houston Matters

Want to See a Doctor Over Skype? New Rules Govern Telemedicine in Texas

The Texas Medical Board recently implemented new rules on the use of telemedicine, which is the use of communication technology such as Skype to provide a medical diagnosis from a distance. In a press release the board announced it would “expand opportunities for patients to interact with their physicians beyond the traditional office visit and clarify […]


The Texas Medical Board recently implemented new rules on the use of telemedicine, which is the use of communication technology such as Skype to provide a medical diagnosis from a distance.

In a press release the board announced it would “expand opportunities for patients to interact with their physicians beyond the traditional office visit and clarify that a physician-patient relationship can be established through a “face-to-face” visit held either in person or via telemedicine.”

However, the board’s statement did have one caveat: “Essentially, the only scenario prohibited in Texas is one in which a physician treats an unknown patient using telemedicine, without any objective diagnostic data, and no ability to follow up with the patient.”

That last part is why Dallas-based company Teladoc is suing the Texas Medical Board because it provides telemedicine options to doctors who don’t have an established relationship with the patient and are essentially an urgent care option vie telemedicine. However, if that patient is at a clinic or with another healthcare worker, the rules do allow telemedicine as an option. The Texas Medical Board says the rules are in place to ensure patient safety. Teladoc says the board is artificially limiting supply and increasing prices.

To tell us more about how Texas has found its way into this telemedicine situation we talk with Dr. Alexander Vo, Vice President of Telemedicine and Health Services Technology at UTMB Health. Then, we turn to Dr. Albert Huang, surgical fellow at the Houston Methodist Institute for Technology, Innovation and Education (MITIE), to learn more about telementoring, in which an expert doctor guides another doctor from a distance using telecommunications.

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