With the explosion of telemedicine use during the COVID-19 pandemic, several regulations have come under close scrutiny for hindering more efficient and effective use of the technology. In particular, telemedicine physician licensing has traditionally been managed at the state level, where both the physician and patient must physically be located during the appointment, but real-time consultations over the internet are not limited by state lines. With today’s technology and consumers’ rapid acceptance of telemedicine, providers and patients virtually anywhere can theoretically meet online for a medical appointment; in reality, they can’t because many states do not recognize medical licenses awarded in a different state. Temporary measures have been created to address this issue, but they do not comprise a long-term solution to the issue of telemedicine physician licensing. Read more
As part of the new “Anywhere to Anywhere VA Health Care Initiative,” Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) providers will soon be able to provide telehealth services across state lines regardless of the state’s licensing rules. The goal is to create a national telemedicine network that can reach veterans in their homes or at locations outside VA hospitals. Effective June 11, the change is expected to increase access to care by making more clinicians available for appointments for patients in rural, remote, or medically underserved areas. Read more
Slightly old news, but on May 19th (only two weeks after the American Telemedicine Association’s Annual Meeting and Trade Show), enough states signed the Interstate Licensure Compact into law to trigger forming the Interstate Licensure Compact Commission. Each state will appoint two commissioners who will help oversee and administer the compact.
This is a highly important event, as it marks the beginnings of making physician licenses either more portable (license portability) or much easier to acquire in additional states once acquired the first time–a key stumbling block in telemedicine that looks to provide aid to rural areas that are often closer to medical service areas in a bordering state. It’s also been a key issue in overcoming the increasing physician shortage in general.
The seventh, and triggering state, was Alabama, followed almost immediately by Minnesota on the same day. On May 27th, Nevada followed suit, making the number of participation states nine. The other states are Idaho, Montana, South Dakota, Utah, West Virginia, and Wyoming–notably rural states that would benefit immensely by the Compact’s success.
The commission is expected to meet later this year. For more information on the Instate Medical Licensure Compact, please visit http://licenseportability.org/.
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