Licensure is an ever-evolving aspect of telemedicine. For the most up-to-date information on licensure policies visit the Center for Telehealth and e-Health Law (CTeL) or the American Telemedicine Association (ATA).
A good rule of thumb is for any provider offering telemental health to be licensed in both the state where they are located and the state where the consumer is located.
Barriers to Licensure in Telemedicine
Telemedicine is an industry on the rise. With telemedicine, physicians can seamlessly transition between health care consumers and facilities in any location. Telemedicine has been proven to drastically improve timely access to care, successfully leverage the existing physician workforce and effectively treat consumers, all while saving precious health care resources. Yet the growth of this medium of care faces a major barrier — outdated requirements for physician licensure.
Though the rules vary state by state, the general consensus is that a physician must be licensed in both the state where he or she is physically located and the state where the consumer to whom he or she is delivering care is located.
Physicians wanting to treat consumers in multiple states must go through a lengthy and expensive licensure application wherever they wish to practice. Many states require providers to go through an arduous process including extensive paperwork, large application fees, long wait-times for processing, or even written exams.
While a remote physician needs to be trained in appropriately treating a consumer via telemedicine, the fundamentals of delivering care do not change whether you are treating a consumer in Florida or Ohio. Akin to needing a new driver’s license each time you cross a state line, these physician licensure policies are an unnecessary barrier and major hindrance to the overall adoption of telemedicine.
The FSMB Licensure Pact
On May 19, 2015 the Federal State Medical Board’s Interstate Medical Licensure Compact Commission was enacted, after Alabama became the seventh state to officially adopt it. The licensure compact will allow a streamlined process for qualified physicians to obtain additional medical licensure in participating Compact states.
The Compact creates a more streamlined licensing process and increases licensure portability across state-lines for physicians. It will ease the physician shortage in rural and underserved areas and help to bring care to those who struggled to access it previously.
For a list of current member states, click here.