How the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact Benefits Telemedicine
Although telemedicine continues to gain popularity across the United States, the state medical licensing system prevents most doctors from providing care across state lines. This creates problems, as one of the major benefits of telemedicine is the ability to provide care regardless of patient geographic location. In order to fully realize the benefits of telehealth, providers must be able to offer their services to patients all over the United States.
While physicians can apply for additional state licenses, the process takes time and costs a considerable amount of money. This prevents many physicians from attempting to practice across state lines.
About the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact
Introduced in 2014, the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact (IMLC) is a legal agreement between participating states to streamline the licensing process for providers that wish to provide telemedicine services in multiple states. Currently, more than half of the United States, the District of Columbia, and the Territory of Guam participate in the Compact. Several other states are currently in the process of introducing legislation to adopt it.
It’s important to note that the IMLC does not immediately qualify physicians for a license to practice medicine in multiple states. Physicians must fill out an online application and meet specific criteria to qualify. Medical licensing is state-based. Providers that qualify would receive expedited processing, discounted licensing fees, and streamlined paperwork. It’s estimated that 80% of U.S. physicians would qualify for expedited licensure under the program.
In addition to the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact, the Physical Therapy Compact and the Nurse Licensure Compact went live last year. The adoption of these Compacts shows increasing willingness by states and providers to adopt telemedicine solutions and provide a variety of services across state lines.
Benefits of the IMLC
The IMLC enables healthcare providers to reach more patients regardless of their location in the country. This makes it possible for people in remote or rural areas to access to quality care. It also enables patients to continue seeing their healthcare provider even if they move to a different state.
Providing more options to patients increases patient satisfaction and allows physicians to reach more people in less time than possible with in-person visits. Increased use of telemedicine reduces operational costs and significantly increases revenue for participating providers.
Becoming a Compact Member
In order to participate in the Compact, individual states must introduce and enact a bill that authorizes the state to join. Several states already have taken this initiative and several others are currently waiting on a final decision. Once a state joins the Compact, physicians within the state have the option to apply for licensure in multiple states. During the application process, physicians must designate their state of principal licensure and all other states they’d like to practice in.
Telemedicine access and availability will likely increase as more states join the Compact. It won’t be long before telemedicine becomes more common than in-person visits. In order to keep up with competition, it’s important that providers implement a reliable and HIPAA-compliant telemedicine solution.
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