New laws are needed to allow telemedicine providers to take care of patients in multiple states. According to the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB), a national nonprofit representing the 70 medical osteopathic boards of the US and its territories, about 51,000 physicians currently are licensed in more than three states.
Eagle Telemedicine is pleased that the FSMB is encouraging policies to make licensing easier. This is a big first step to help telemedicine physicians, who live throughout the country, and serve patients in multiple states.
With telemedicine expanding, a #1 concern has been patient confidentiality and protection. The law requires physicians to submit to fingerprinting and other background checks. While the FSMB recommendations are a good sign, more changes are necessary to support the expanding needs of patients that may be well served by providers not physically in their community.
Eagle’s Credentialing Coordinator, Sharon Hammill, suggests that it’s good to see the government working to benefit telemedicine practice. Currently, some states take more than 4 or 5 months to process. According to Hammill, processing manually takes some time because some states do not allow for electronic submission, and, current FSMB recommendations notwithstanding, states have highly variable requirements for processing, including juris prudence tests, HIV exams, CME, finger printing and background checks.
“We need changes that will reduce paperwork and speed up the process so our doctors will get to work quicker,” said Hammill. “The faster the process the sooner we can care for patients.”
On August 20, Eagle representatives are planning to participate in a roundtable discussion at North Carolina’s Medical Board. This forum will address telemedicine issues and the Board’s Position Statement on telemedicine.