Texas Health Steps

Medical telecommunications and Texas Health Steps

Many patients and families have found telehealth to be a valuable means to access their medical home, pediatric medical subspecialists, or pediatric surgical specialists, particularly those who live in rural and underserved communities.

American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), 2020

Texas Medicaid covers medical telecommunication services for a range of medical, behavioral health and therapy services for children and adolescents. In general, the term telemedicine refers to medical services and telehealth refers to behavioral health and therapy services that are delivered remotely.

Learn more about flexibilities due to COVID-19 and other health emergencies

Normally, preventive medical checkups for children and adolescents provided through Texas Health Steps are not eligible for remote delivery through telemedicine. However, during special circumstances, such as the COVID-19 pandemic and other health emergencies, the Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) may allow some of these services to be performed remotely. Visit HHSC’s Medicaid and CHIP Services Information for Providers web page to learn about current COVID-19 flexibilities.

The web page provides updated information about HHSC rules and regulations governing medical telecommunication services from a variety of Texas Medicaid providers, including federally qualified health centers, rural health centers, and specialized therapies and nursing services.

Test your knowledge of telemedicine and telehealth services for children and adolescents enrolled in Texas Health Steps.

portrait of teen boy
Carson 13 years

Carson developed a large rash of itchy red welts on his face and neck after playing in the woods behind his apartment complex. His right cheek has some slight swelling. Carson’s father seeks an appointment for his son but does not have transportation to your clinic and is worried about possible exposure to COVID-19.

Is Carson a candidate for telemedicine?

portrait of girl
Jada 4 years

Jada’s mother called last week for an appointment because Jada’s customary restlessness has gotten markedly worse. Jada head butted her mother so hard it left a bruise. Jada can’t sit still for meals, reading or television. She is disrupting family life and her child-care center.

Is Jada a candidate for telemedicine?

portrait of boy
Marko 6 years

Marko lives with his parents in a rural area an hour from his speech-language pathologist. After his mother cancels three consecutive appointments, the therapy scheduler learns that his parents have difficulty getting off work to drive Marko to town.

Is Marko a good candidate for telehealth?

Need to Know

  • A responsible adult should be present with a child or adolescent during any medical telecommunication appointment.
  • A patient or parent/caregiver’s written or verbal consent for telemedicine or telehealth must be documented in the patient’s medical record.
  • Providers should consult HHSC’s Medicaid and CHIP Services Information for Providers web page for current rules and requirements about telecommunication appointments.

Why it Matters

Telemedicine and telehealth are promising methods to provide medical, behavioral health and therapy services to children and adolescents in an affordable and professional manner. The AAP endorses quality medical communications for young patients. In addition, the COVID-19 pandemic has shown that medical telecommunications can serve as a key method of delivering health care to children and adolescents, whose growth and development call for regular and periodic monitoring.

Related Courses


American Academy of Pediatrics. (2020). Guidance on the Necessary Use of Telehealth During the COVID-19 Pandemic.

Cleveland Clinic. (2018). Improve Your Webside Manner: Tips on Virtual Visits. How to connect with patients through the screen.

Wales, D., Skinner, L., & Hayman, M. (2017). The Efficacy of Telehealth-Delivered Speech and Language Intervention for Primary School-Age Children: A Systematic ReviewInternational journal of telerehabilitation9(1), 55–70.