Teladoc Inc. of Dallas is the latest telemedicine provider to be shut out of Arkansas because of Arkansas State Medical Board rules involving physician-patient relationships.

The board has traditionally defined the establishment of a doctor-patient relationship as: an in-person history and a physical,” board attorney Kevin O’Dwyer told Arkansas Business recently.

And without that, the telemedicine doctors — unless they’ve seen a patient in person — can’t treat Arkansans, making Arkansas one of the handful of states that don’t allow telemedicine companies in their state.

O’Dwyer said the only reason the board has the requirement is to protect the patient.

Still, O’Dwyer said the board discusses the issue “regularly. … We haven’t seen a model from any of these companies that would satisfy, in the board’s opinion, the regulation.”

Teladoc had been offering the service in Arkansas since 2008, its CEO, Jason Gorevic, said. But recently, the board “made it clear that they would take action against physicians who were practicing telemedicine,” Gorevic said.

Teladoc suspended its service in November, pending approval from the board. It has 70,000 members in Arkansas.

338px-Flag_of_Arkansas.svgGorevic said Teladoc has been trying to get a meeting before the board to explain its practice and telemedicine.

“They have, unfortunately, declined our offer to come in and present,” Gorevic said. “In the meantime, there are many other parties in the state who are interested in telemedicine and see its promise for reducing costs, improving quality of care and improving access to care.”

Teladoc offers services across the country except in Arkansas and Idaho, where it also recently suspended its service because of its medical board rules. But Gorevic said he hopes that Teladoc will be allowed to practice in Idaho soon, thanks to pending legislation.

Teladoc sells its services primarily to employers and health plans to use as part of their benefits packages. The members then have full-time access to a national network of board-certified, state-licensed physicians who can be connected to a patient within about eight minutes, Gorevic said.

The patient can decide to interact with the doctor by a video or phone consultation. Or a patient can send a photo of the ailment to the doctor.

Comments: Since 2008 and now the Board is weighing in? Refusing to meet with Teladoc? Patients are free to use to service or NOT? What kind of message is the Arkansas state medical board telling their citizens?