While many interested parties are watching how the legal action plays out in Texas with Teladoc’s federal antitrust lawsuit against the Texas Medical Board (TMB), there’s another way to address the issues other than regulations.
Recently, a number of parties filed friend-of-the-court briefs with the Fifth Circuit supporting Teladoc’s case, including the Justice Department and the FTC. And although the TMB has withdrawn its appeal, it plans to continue to fight Teladoc in the lower court.
The FTC and the DOJ enforce federal antitrust laws, and the FTC has confirmed that it’s investigating the TMB for possible antitrust violations. In the meantime, the medical board contends that the new regulations would improve the quality of medical care.
“We have enough existing laws to protect patient safety without adding more barriers to entry,” said Rene Quashie, a healthcare regulatory attorney at Cozen O’Connor. “The FTC is obviously very concerned about legacy statutes, new regulations, and recent medical board decisions that may have detrimental effects on telehealth.”
Certainly, there’s a lack of uniformity in telehealth regulations across states. As states and medical boards struggle with ensuring patient safety through regulations, there’s a better way than creating more regulation.
“Independent, third-party accreditation provides a nationally recognized benchmark that assures partners and purchasers that an organization adheres to the best standards of care,” said URAC Vice President Deborah Smith.
Increased regulation can stifle innovation and create barriers to entry. URAC’s accreditation process defines the standards of excellence for telehealth without prescribing how organizations must meet those standards. This allows an evolving industry to continue innovating while ensuring patient safety and quality care. This is the key difference between regulation and accreditation.
“If regulators were educated about what’s in the accreditation standards, they would likely find a lot of comfort in them,” said Quashie. “Accreditation can definitely help medical boards and state agencies better accept telehealth.”