There has recently been quite a bit of heat in the media surrounding telemedicine and its role in the health care field. More specifically, a law was struck down in Texas that was proposed by the State Medical Board that would have significantly impacted the practice of telemedicine in the state. The law would have required an in-person examination prior to the prescribing of medications. While the law may be well intentioned to protect the safety of patients, a 2012 study showed that the added barrier to the access of health care that comes with this law actually leads to an increase in disease-related mortality when examinations are required prior to prescribing medications.
Some states have taken a less extreme response than effectively banning the practice of telemedicine, for example, Indiana opted to carry out a pilot to further study the practice of telemedicine before making any decisions on its fate.
Laws vary from state to state with some outlining exact guidelines for the practice of telemedicine, while others leave regulation up to the state medical boards and other agencies. Studies have shown that when effectively used, telemedicine can address health disparities, lead to better outcomes, and drive down cost.
Until the healthcare field recognizes telemedicine as an integral part of health care services that are here to stay, and works to set guidelines based upon this notion, the reality is that laws will continue to be made that end up creating barriers to healthcare and harming the people it originally planned to help.