Telemedicine has become increasingly popular in most states, but in a few states like Texas, its value has be slow to recognize, according to a recent report.
It is clear that there is a growing adoption of telemedicine as seen in a report released by the National Center for Policy Analysis (NCPA).
According to the report, 25 states have already revised their licensure and professional requirements since 2014 to accommodate providers who are offering telemedicine services.
Furthermore, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services changed its fee schedule in 2014 to encourage more telehealth practices to accommodate the increase in Telehealth services.
The number of patients using telehealth services is expected to increase by 7 million by 2018.
Despite the obvious increase in the demand for telehealth services, states like Texas, Alabama and Arkansas are failing when it comes to telemedicine rankings.
In fact, all of the other states have received an A or B rating with Georgia being the only state receiving a C.
The NCPA said that Texas, in particular stands out as behind the curve in telemedicine implementation
“The Texas Medical Board has strongly resisted efforts to expand telemedicine in the state’s private health sector, with the possible exception of patients few doctors want to treat — prisoners,” the report said. “The state prison system’s decades-long use of telemedicine has been a great success.”
Texas, Alabama and Georgia are the only states that require an in-office follow-up visit after a telemedicine encounter. “This is striking considering Texas ranks 51 out of 51 (including Washington, D.C.) for access to medical care in the United States,” the report says.
The state’s prison telemedicine program however has been quite the success.
In 1994, the state contracted with the University of Texas Medical Branch to offer telemedicine visits to state prisoners.
The University of Texas Medical Branch has performed over 250,000 telecommunication visits for state prisoners over the past 20 years.
These visits have improved health outcomes among inmates and have saved taxpayers $780 million dollars.
Despite the success, in January 2015 the Texas Medical Board prohibited doctors from writing prescriptions for telemedicine patients who did not have an in-person visit or previous relationship with said doctor.
The report said that this decision undermines healthcare accessibility goals of Texas.
“The protectionist policies of the Texas Medical Board (TMB) threaten to undermine the effort Texas has made to increase access to medical care through telemedicine,” Vermeulen wrote. “With the population of Texas projected to double by 2050, attempting to limit telemedicine patients and providers is a dangerous bet against the future of health care in Texas.”