NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis


January 4, 2006

Because of time constraints, increased knowledge and advanced technology, many patients are beginning to receive some of their medical services in a setting other than the traditional physician's office, says Devon M. Herrick, a senior fellow at the National Center for Policy Analysis.

Consider these new developments:

  • More patients, physicians and insurers are beginning to see the benefits of doctors consulting with patients via e-mail; moreover, e-consultations are beginning to replace burdensome telephone calls.
  • Doctokr (pronounced "doc talker") Family Medicine is a Washington, DC-area clinic that practices family medicine almost entirely by telephone and e-mail.
  • A new type of treatment facility, which features limited services but added convenience, consists of small health care centers located inside big box retailers and staffed by nurse practitioners.

There are legal obstacles to these consumer-centered models of practice, says Herrick. Physicians are licensed by state medical boards to practice medicine in a specific state, and many state medical boards find cyber-medicine (that is, consultation via the Internet or e-mail) unethical unless the consultation occurs after an initial face-to-face examination. State-specific licensure of physicians also makes practicing medicine online illegal if the patient resides in a state other than where the physician is licensed.

Source: Devon Herrick, "Demand Growing for Corporate Practice of Medicine," Heartland Institute, January 1, 2005.


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