HB2056 Launches Big Changes in a Big State, Starting September 1, 2021.
Last month Governor Greg Abbott signed into law House Bill 2056, effectively legalizing teledentistry in Texas. This important legislation combats a ban issued by the Texas State Board of Dental Examiners (TSBDE) restricting dental professionals from utilizing any form of teledentistry. TSBDE’s hard stance against telecommunication utilization brought outrage from dental practitioners and ultimately litigation against the State Board. With the passage of this legislation, dental professionals will now be able to break down boundaries to care and expand care to areas previously unattainable.
What you need to know before your patients open wide
Before you start incorporating teledentistry into your practice, there are a few things to note. First, this law does not go into effect until September 2021 and you will have to wait until January 2022 for insurance reimbursement. The Texas State Board of Dental Examiners, Pharmacy Board and Health & Human Services will also implement rules for those intending to participate in teledentistry. More importantly, this legislation makes it clear that it is not expanding the scope of practice but instead allowing an alternative method to provide the same care practitioners were already providing. This means dental hygienists will now, under the guidance and supervision of a dentist, be able to provide hygiene services in alternative settings. These settings include nursing homes, patients homes, schools, hospitals, state institutions, public health clinics, and other institutions.
Dentists will be able to supervise up to five allied dental professionals and utilize asynchronous and synchronous communication. However, the asynchronous collection of patient data will require a synchronous audio interaction between the practitioner and patient. A key point to note is that a patient-provider relationship will be established through the use of teledentistry. This means a dentist could have a dental hygienist in an alternative setting collecting patient information on a new patient. The dentist would then examine the patient virtually and in the same appointment, the dental hygienist provides preventative services.
Safeguards not sports guards
The Texas legislature made patient safety and security a priority by implementing rules that would protect patients. For example, practitioners needing to prescribe controlled substances should be aware that opiate prescriptions will be limited to two business days and non-opiate controlled substances limited to five business days. Equally important in this legislation is the State’s stance to prevent abuse, fraud, and protect patient privacy. As such, the state will require the utilization of HIPAA compliant software to transmit patient information. For us, at Mouthwatch this means we will continue to provide secure and robust teledentistry solutions through TeleDent. We will also continue to provide a free 30 day license plus training and onboarding for your team. We are excited for the future of dental care in Texas and are here to assist you in teledentistry needs.
Amber Lovatos, RDH, BSDH, MAADH is the Clinical Director of Dental Services at TOMAGWA HealthCare Ministries, a non-profit dental clinic and Governmental Affairs Consultant for Mouthwatch. She is also an adjunct assistant professor at The University of Texas School of Dentistry at Houston. Amber is a national speaker and key opinion leader for Crest Oral-B and PDT Instruments. She is also the co-founder of Dental Hygiene Spark, a social media platform dedicated to empowering dental hygienists. More than that, Amber has dedicated her career to serving the underserved and increasing access to care. She is passionate about bringing care to people’s communities and empowering others to do the same. You can contact Amber at [email protected]