Federal Telemedicine License?
Written by Editor   
Wednesday, July 02, 2014 09:41 AM

Traditional medical licenses limit physicians to providing care only in states in which they are licensed -- a physical convention that is a particular hindrance in the virtual world of telemedicine, which is why Congress is now mulling a new license structure for physicians.

But a Federal solution to what has been a closely-held states' right -- the licensing of healthcare professionals -- may open a Pandora's box of complications, even though the congressional fix has the backing of the Federation of State Medical Boards which turned to Washington for help because a federal law would make it easier for physicians using telemedicine to treat patients regardless of their state of residence.

Through the interstate compact, physicians would no longer have to apply for license privileges in each state in which they plan to treat patients, but would seek this new interstate license. It would also essentially put physicians choosing to participate in this licensure under the purview of congressional oversight.  And an important difference would be a requirement that physicians seeking such licenses would need to be board-certified.

"As it is drafted presently, a physician would need to be board-certified to apply to participate in the compact. As part of the compact application process, which would be separate from applying for a regular credential, an applicant would have to demonstrate board certification to be eligible."

"This is especially important because the state of principal licensure will evaluate the physician's credentials for participation in the compact and, once approved, other states will license the physician across the compact without further review," he added. "So it is one proxy for demonstrating the physician's commitment to provision of quality care."

Several interstate compacts for physicians are already in place in various areas of the country with large populations living near state lines. But, this proposal would tie together all of the states choosing to participate in the compact.

Physicians seeking the interstate licence must have a clean background devoid of any run-ins with disciplinary medical boards or agencies, courts, or the DEA. And, the physician will have to practice medicine within the bounds of the state in which the patient resides, not the physician.

Source:  http://www.medpagetoday.com/PublicHealthPolicy/GeneralProfessionalIssues/46569