As technology continues to grow, health care providers are finding new ways to diagnose patients.
The Austin Regional Clinic is rolling out a new telemedicine program that would allow doctors to consult with their patients online to diagnose them. It’s called "eMD Access."
They can use essentially any device whether it's a smartphone or a tablet or a PC and they can access it through an app or through a browser-based platform,” said Director Dr. Jake Childers. “They can essentially log on and be talking to a doctor typically within three minutes."
Childers said it will cost $10 per month for individuals or $20 for a family plan.
"It's really roughly analogous to what you'd pay for Netflix or what you'd pay for Pandora or any other subscription service,” said Childers. “But in this case, it's healthcare."
However, as with any new technology, there has been pushback.
Sen. Charles Schwertner (R-Georgetown) has co-authored SB 1107 to maintain medical standards in telemedicine but to also allow for expansion.
"It significantly loosens some of the restrictions that might have hampered the overall adoption and utilization of telemedicine prior to this,” said Schwertner. “But at the same time it maintains the standard of care and has in place patient protections which I think are very important to make sure that an individual -- when they avail themselves of a telemedicine service by a practitioner that they are being treated in the same way if you or I were to walk into a doctor's office and be treated by a physician."
The bill proposes to change the current requirement of an in-person appointment before online consultation.
“It does not require in person face-to-face encounter before telemedicine can be offered,” said Schwertner.
As for the Austin Regional Clinic's telemedicine service, Childers said it is meant to act as a replacement for urgent care services.
A separate program is being developed for those with chronic conditions. The clinic plans to implement its telemedicine service in May at its 20 locations.
TAP HERE to learn more about Austin Regional Clinic's eMD Access program.