NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Doctors Seeking Multiple Licenses to Practice Telemedicine

March 17, 2014

More and more doctors are applying for licenses in multiple states in order to practice telemedicine, says Stateline.

  • With demand for doctors on the rise due to ObamaCare, physicians are looking to apply for licenses to practice in more than one state.
  • Ten million Americans today rely on telemedicine (often with doctors that reside in a different state), but doctors who lack a license to practice beyond their borders put themselves at legal risk if they do so.

Several states have started to encourage the use of telemedicine in their Medicaid programs and require insurance reimbursement for such services, but it is licensing barriers that are keeping most doctors and hospitals from expanding telemedicine practices further.

While telemedicine was previously only used when small town doctors needed to consult with specialists, the practice is expanding to routine care.

  • Through videoconferencing, doctors and patients can have a conversation similar to one that would take place in a doctor's office.
  • Many times doctors use telemedicine to transmit and discuss diagnostic images.
  • They also can discuss progress and care with patients who have chronic illnesses, so that they do not have to leave their homes.
  • For patients who have visible evidence of symptoms, such as a rash, doctors can see it on the screen.
  • While much of telemedicine is simply done from the patient's home, some medical facilities have secure equipment that patients can utilize when conferencing with doctors in another state.

Obtaining multiple medical licenses can be costly, and vary across the country.

  • The average fee ranges from $200 to $600 -- renewal fees are lower.
  • Michigan's licensing fee costs only $150, while Rhode Island's fee is $1,290.

Some states are considering interstate compacts that would allow participating states' doctors to practice across borders, and would provide both doctors and patients legal protections. The Federation of State Medical Boards will be considering such a proposal in April.

Source: Christine Vestal, "Remote Medicine Tests Physician Licensing Rules," Stateline, March 7, 2014.


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