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TELEMEDICINE IN TEXAS


Telemedicine is expected to play a much bigger role in rural practices in the future. TMA has numerous resources to help physicians understand the issues, legalities, and technology involved. Check them out at www.texmed.org/telemedicine.


Tech University already have sophis- ticated telemedicine systems in place to serve the state’s prison populations, Dr. Dickey says. But she says most other physicians naturally have ques- tions, like how to bill for telemedicine MKVV] KXN RYa ^Y


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packed work day. Most individual practices still are trying to get ac- quainted with the regulations and the technology, she says. (See “Telemedi- cine in Texas,” at left.) “With the new legislation that just passed, I think everyone is eager to see if that won’t open some doors that may offer some alternatives to towns that haven’t always been there,” she said. Many physicians also are under-


standably reluctant to prescribe with- out seeing a patient face-to-face, Dr. Dickey says. But most of the technical problems with using telemedicine al- ready have been ironed out, she says. It’s just that most physicians still are not familiar with telemedicine or don’t yet have the infrastructure to use it.


“There’s a whole plethora of instru- ments that lend themselves to doing pretty much a full exam at a distance,” she said. “But I got to tell you that most of us don’t have them sitting in Y_\ YP MO] v The ARCHI report also suggested


that rural physicians and clinics rely more on community health workers as well as mid-level practitioners like nurse practitioners and physician as- sistants. She says community health workers, who are certified but not highly trained, can be used primarily ^Y VV QKZ] SX MK\O VSUO M\OK^SXQ ^\KX]- portation alternatives for elderly or disabled patients. Dr. Dickey pointed out that mid-


level practitioners in Texas must work under the supervision of a physician in writing prescriptions. That can present problems in many far-flung areas, especially the 35 Texas coun- ties that have no physician. However, in 2013, the Texas Legislature — with the support of TMA, the Texas Acad-


58 TEXAS MEDICINE November 2017


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