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Consulting a doctor by phone, text or video is becoming popular. And in Texas, the debate over safety and access to health care is heating up. 

Courtesy of Amy Ho

Text messages from your doctor are just the start. Millennial physicians are taking over hospital wards and doctors’ offices – and they’re bringing new technologies and new ideas about life-work balance.

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There’s about to be a new home for doctor entrepreneurs in Dallas-Fort Worth.  April 24th marks the launch of the new chapter of the Society of Physician Entrepreneurs (SoPE).

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How many days will you have to wait to see a doctor? Depends on where you live. A new study of fifteen metropolitan areas measured average wait time, and the winner? It’s Dallas.

Lauren Silverman / KERA News

For years the government has been trying to convince doctors to trade in their pads and pens for computers and tablets – and not just because their handwriting is often illegible. The switch plays a fundamental role in achieving the promises of Obamacare -- lower costs and more access. Not all North Texas physicians are taking the bait.

The misery of low back pain often drives people to the doctor to seek relief. But doctors are doing a pretty miserable job of treating back pain, a study finds.

Physicians are increasingly prescribing expensive scans, narcotic painkillers and other treatments that don't help in most cases, and can make things a lot worse. Since 1 in 10 of all primary care visits are for low back pain, this is no small matter.

The PSA test has been dissed a lot lately. The nation's preventive medicine task force, for one, says the test is so unreliable in figuring out who's at risk for deadly prostate cancer that most men shouldn't bother getting one.

Older men are at high risk of suicide, and they're far more likely to kill themselves if they have access to firearms.

Doctors should ask relatives of older people with depression or cognitive problems if there are guns in the home, much as they might ask about whether it's time to take away the car keys, an academic paper says.

Lauren Silverman

There is a serious doctor shortage in Texas. Nationwide, the state ranks near the bottom when it comes to doctor-patient ratios, and that’s only expected to get worse as more people gain access to insurance with the Affordable Care Act. For decades, nurse practitioners have argued they can help fill the gaps in primary care – if only there were fewer restrictions. Now, legislation giving nurses more autonomy has been signed into law.

Courtesy Chris Ewin

Ten-minute physicals and health insurance paperwork aren't just frustrating for patients – they're a pain for doctors, too. One of every 10 Texas doctors say they are moving away from accepting insurance and toward a flat fee for coverage. They call it "concierge care," or direct medicine.

More than 4,000 U.S. doctors offer concierge services. That’s 30 percent more than last year. And Texas is a hot zone: at least a dozen doctors have gone concierge in Dallas-Fort Worth alone. Here’s a basic overview.