A Breakthrough Moment For Telehealth

Industries on the rise don’t always enjoy an unrestrained ascent into acceptance. There are good times and bad. Regulatory barriers, rough weeks in the marketplace and tough hits in the press can always be expected. But, sometimes, when an industry is doing the right work at the right time, you hit a groove. Such has been the last few weeks for telehealth.

Thanks to a tremendous week in policy making, telehealth is now nearing a “game over” moment in terms of states unilaterally accepting the value and legality of providing care via technology.

Over the course of the last 18 months, nearly every state has upheld that the standard of care for physicians providing care via telehealth should be equal to that provided in person--that robust telehealth technologies can be used to both extend and create a treatment relationship. But a number of states have held on to dated regulatory language and left telehealth stakeholders wringing their hands.

The main culprits: Texas and Arkansas. These states have long been thought of as those with the most dated regulatory regimes, holding on to rules which required prior in-person relationships and other provisions which restricted the type of care that could be provided via telehealth. But this past week, they budged. Thanks to physician leadership collaborating with in-state advocates, a modernized legislative effort is now taking shape in Texas, and the Arkansas Medical Board passed new rules which allow for the creation of a relationship through telemedicine.