The saga of Teladoc vs. the Texas Medical Board has had many of us on the edge of our telehealth seats for months. A May 29, 2015 article published by Businesswire reported that Judge Robert Pitman, U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas, issued an injunction against the Texas Medical Board, and indicated that Teladoc is likely to succeed in showing that the Texas Medical Board is illegally limiting competition by requiring a face-to-face visit before physicians are allowed to prescribe medication to patients. Judge Pitman’s recent ruling prohibits the enforcement of the revised rule until after trial to determine who is violating the law. This newest decision marks the sixth occasion in the last four years that the courts have sided with Teladoc against the Texas Medical Board’s multiple attempts to limit access to telemedicine in the state.
Jason Gorevic, the Chief Executive Officer for Teladoc reportedly stated:
Not only is telehealth the wave of the future, but Texas physicians have been treating patients without a prior in-person visit for decades. We are happy to be able to continue serving Texas citizens, employers and health plans by enabling them to access high-quality care in a cost-effective manner.
In an auditorium with over 2,000 American Telemedicine Association (ATA) attendees a few weeks ago in Long Beach, California, Henry DePhillips, MD, participated in a highly publicized panel discussion where he argued Teladoc’s reasons for challenging the Texas Medical Board. Also present on the ATA panel were representatives from various positions, including the American Medical Association. In discussing the issues, Dr. DePhillips was careful to explain that Teladoc provides 24/7 access to medical care via phone or video teleconferencing (VTC), but only treats people for non-emergency medical issues such as sinus problems, sore throats, urinary tract infections, bronchitis and poison ivy.
Teladoc is the first and largest telehealth provider in the nation, founded in 2002. It is available 24/7/365, with board-certified doctors who respond within an average of 10 minutes. It reports a 92% patient satisfaction rate, costs less than urgent care or ER visits for non-emergency medical care, and qualifies as an expense for HSA, FSA and HRA accounts. Unlike nurse-run call centers, Teladoc doctors can diagnose, recommend treatment, and prescribe medication, when necessary. Teladoc is the only telehealth provider to receive certification from the National Committee for Quality Assurance (NCQA) for its physician credentialing process, scoring 100 percent.
For other TeleMental Health Institute (TMHI) reports of this fascinating battle between old and new medical treatment paradigms, see the previous TMHI articles:
- Teladoc Wins Restraining Order Against Texas Medical Board
- Are US Regulatory Boards Unfairly Limiting Competitors? Telehealth Implications of Recent Supreme Court Ruling
TMHI supports companies such as Teladoc who dare to forge new paths to responsibly reaching many people who otherwise would not get timely care. While we hold the position that informed consent and proper training of all involved professionals is mandatory, we salute pioneers who strike a reasonable balance between innovation and the responsibility to do no harm while rendering affordable and timely care to those who need it.