Friday, August 31, 2012

Confusion around medical licensure requirements for telemedicine

As telemedicine gains traction around the country, there are a growing number of physicians who want to start building telemedicine services into their practice. Unfortunately, the medical licensure requirements and other in-state regulations that govern the practice of telemedicine can be very confusing. Each state creates and regulates medical licensure requirements. The requirements for telemedicine vary quite a bit across the country.

As an example, the Oregon medical board require that the physician must conduct an in-person physical examination prior to engaging in telemedicine.

The latest "Telemedicine Licensure Report" from the Center for Telemedicine Law (CTL) was released in 2003.

Fortunately, the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) has a 2012 document on their website titled, "Telemedicine Overview: Board-by-Board Approach."

Here is a brief summary from their document:

  • Ten (10) state boards issue a special purpose license, telemedicine license or certificate, or license to practice medicine across state lines to allow for the practice of telemedicine.
  • Fifty-seven (57) state boards plus the DC Board of Medicine require that physicians engaging in telemedicine are licensed in the state in which the patient is located.
  • Minnesota allows physicians to practice telemedicine if they are registered to practice telemedicine or are registered to practice across state lines.
  • Fifteen (15) states currently require private insurance companies to cover telemedicine services to the same extent as faceto-face consultations.
  • Massachusetts permits coverage for services provided through telemedicine as long as the deductible, copayment or coinsurance doesn’t exceed the deductible, copayment or coinsurance applicable to an in-person consultation.
These regulations will continue to evolve as telemedicine becomes ubiquitous and as more patients demand to access their physicians through these technologies. To get involved, make sure to attend the American Telemedicine Association (ATA) conferences. 

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