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Going forward

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The good news about telemedicine is that the risk is never terribly high. And it’s even lower now that Texas—the last state to do so—has abolished the requirement that patient-physician relationships be established with an in-person visit before a telemedicine visit. 

According to Lexology, the Trump administration seems friendly toward telehealth. Congress is also supportive. Two senators, Cory Gardner (R-CO) and Gary Peters (D-MI) are pushing a bill forward that would allow eligible hospitals to test telehealth services in Medicare healthcare delivery models. 

What’s needed next for telehealth is a telemedicine-specific standard of care, according to Steven Waldren, director of the Alliance for E-health Innovation at the American Academy of Family Physicians. Medical students need to be trained on telemedicine best practices from the get-go; without specific training on telehealth best practices, doctors often practice much too conservatively. 

In the meantime, get to know your state’s laws—and the laws of any states where you’ll be treating patients, talk to patients before prescribing anything, and make sure your informed consent procedure is clear and comprehensive. 

You also need to decide ahead of time which conditions you’re comfortable treating remotely and which require in-person visits. You should also have a process in place for when and how to escalate treatment to a face-to-face visit.