The Lone Star state is home to great football and even better telepsychiatry! This practice allows rural and under-served areas of Texas to have access to quality psychiatric services, which can make a significant impact on the mental health of the state.
Telepsychiatry is a common practice in hospitals, schools, and health clinics throughout Texas. The rules and regulations governing telemedicine in Texas have generally been quite favorable. One recent lawsuit in Texas against a telemedicine firm was resolved favorably for telemedicine and should not limit the use of appropriate telemedicine services throughout the state.
Based on our research, Iris gives Texas an A-rating for being an excellent state for utilizing telepsychiatry services. Great job, Texas!
THE STATE OF MENTAL HEALTH:
One in five Texans will experience a mental health concern at some point this year — that means nearly 5.4 million people will need medical attention for their mental health. In Texas, nearly 20 percent of children ages 9-17 have a diagnosed mental illness. Many hospitals, mental health centers, and other healthcare offices are struggling to provide enough quality care to patients seeking mental health help.
Here’s a chilling statistic — there are only 8 child psychiatrists per 100,000 children in the state of Texas. This shortage of providers is even more pronounced in rural areas and leads to individuals that need mental health care having to go without. That’s where we come in.
IMPLEMENTATION OF TEXAS TELEPSYCHIATRY
Implementing a telepsychiatry program in Texas is relatively easy to do with the proper knowledge and guidance. There are no specific restrictions related to technology requirements outside of abiding by HIPAA regulations. The Texas Medical Board also allows clinicians to obtain a telemedicine license specifically for the practice of telemedicine within the state. There are many successful telepsychiatry programs in Texas that serve as excellent models to help health care systems looking to implement telemedicine move forward with confidence.
RULES & REGULATIONS FOR TEXAS TELEMED
It’s critical to know the telepsychiatry regulations in Texas prior to establishing a telemedicine program at your organization. According to Texas state law and regulations, telemedicine is “the use of health care information exchanged from one site to another via electronic communications for the health and education of the individual or provider, and for the purpose of improving patient care, treatment, and services.” A practitioner-patient relationship must be established via telemedicine, which is easy to do when the practitioner complies with the same standard of care as would apply in an in-person setting, and complies with one of the following scenarios:
Has a preexisting practitioner-patient relationship with the patient established
Communicates with the patient pursuant to a call coverage agreement established in accordance with the Texas Medial Board rules with a physician requesting coverage of medical care for the patient
Provides the telemedicine services through the use of one of the following methods: synchronous audiovisual interaction, asynchronous store and forward technology, another form of audiovisual telecommunication
Consent must be obtained prior to telemedicine or telehealth services. If you have any additional questions regarding the rules and regulations for telepsychiatry in Texas, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us for more information.
TELEMEDICINE REIMBURSEMENT IN TEXAS
Medicaid reimbursement for telemedicine in Texas is available for the following services:
Office or outpatient visits
Psychiatric diagnostic interviews
These services are reimbursed equivalently to a standard in-person session. Medicaid reimburses telepsychiatry services provided by a psychiatrist, nurse practitioner, LCSW, and LPC. Medicaid does not provide reimbursement for store-and-forward services, care delivered over the phone or through fax, email communication, or chart review.
Texas Medicaid and Medicare also allow additional codes to be billed for services provided by telemedicine (such as the HCPCS code Q3014) so long as certain criteria are met. Texas passed their telemedicine parity law in 1997 and also includes coverage for state employee health plans. What this means is that private payers are required by law to reimburse for telemedicine services equivalently to services that are delivered in-person.
IRIS IN TEXAS
Iris Telehealth believes that Texas is a great state to work, love, and play — and that is why we have chosen Austin, Texas as our corporate headquarters! We are currently providing services throughout Texas, including outpatient services for multiple MHMR / LMHA systems and inpatient services and ER consultations for some of this state’s largest and most reputable health care systems. In addition, we are providing specialty services in multiple settings including substance abuse clinics and elderly care facilities.
If you want access to mental health care services to become more available for your community in Texas, we’d like to hear your voice. Iris looks forward to continuing to grow our relationships with our current partners in Texas as well as making some new friends along the way!