The Texas Medical Board dealt a blow to Dallas-based Teladoc and other telemedicine companies when it voted Friday to approve rules sharply limiting the use of telephone and video consultations to remotely treat patients, the New York Times reported.
This latest vote follows an emergency rule issued by the board in January that required physicians to see a patient for an in-person visit before prescribing drugs. Teladoc won a temporary injunction of that rule.
According to the rules issued Friday, “questions and answers exchanged through email, electronic text, or chat or telephonic evaluation of or consultation with a patient” are inadequate to establish a doctor-patient relationship, according to the New York Times.
The Texas medical board's move comes as many states are moving to relax their rules governing telemedicine. For instance, several states, including Idaho and Utah, have joined an interstate compact for physician licensing aimed at boosting the growth of telemedicine.
The telemedicine industry is experiencing explosive growth. An August 2014 Deloitte study predicted 75 million virtual visits in North America in 2014 and as many as 300 million visits a year. Thirty-seven percent of employers planned to offer their workers telemedicine consultations in 2015, and another 34% planned to do so by 2017, according to a 2014 Towers Watson survey.