One of the important ways technology has impacted medical care is through the practice of telemedicine. The term refers to the practice of health care at a distance by means of telecommunication and information technology, and it is a growing area of demand, particularly as more people become insurance under the Affordable Care Act.
At present, roughly 10 million Americans are estimated to be relying on telemedicine, and an increasing number of physicians are obtaining licenses in multiple states as a result. Physicians who practice medicine in a patient’s home state without obtaining a license are, of course, at risk of both medical malpractice and losing their license.
for telemedicine increasing, there is a push to ease licensing requirements. On the other hand, there are also concerns that doing so could put patients at greater risk of harm. At present, the legal discussion involves questions about whether regulators would have power to conduct an investigation when there is a complaint about a doctor practicing medicine remotely without a license in the patient’s home state, whether doctors would have any legal protections against medical malpractice litigation, and whether physicians should be required to obtain multiple licenses to practice telemedicine.
The state of Minnesota and now Wisconsin are among a group of states that have sought to address the problem by creating a new licensing category, but it remains to be seen whether that will remain the only response to the issue. Whatever the outcome may be, it is important for physicians who face discipline for their practice of medicine to work with an experienced attorney who can provide clear guidance and strong advocacy.
Governing.com, “Why Physician Licensing Is a Problem for Telemedicine,” March 7, 2015.
Licenseportbility.org, “Interstate Medical Licensure Compact: Legislative Status,” Accessed Dec. 22, 2015.