Draft legislation that would allow board-certified physicians to practice in multiple states through an interstate licensure compact is getting closer to finalization. The measure would make it much easier for physicians licensed in one state to treat patients in other states, whether in person, by videoconference, or online.
Explore this issue:September 2014
“This would open up possibilities to otolaryngologists, because a lot of what we do is with endoscopy,” said Jon V. Thomas, MD, MBA, managing partner of Ear, Nose and Throat SpecialtyCare in
St. Paul, Minn. “Any endoscopic evaluation or procedure that can be performed with an attached camera in a patient’s upper aerodigestive tract can be transmitted to anyone in the country.”
In addition, Dr. Thomas sees the law appealing to otolaryngology consultants in large academic centers or large consultative practices, as well as otolaryngologists with specialty interests such as oncology or complex disease. “It would allow them to deploy their knowledge and assets anywhere in the country,” he said.
Dr. Thomas, the immediate past chair of the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB), which represents state medical boards across the country, was eager to expedite the licensure process. “With today’s technology, a physician should be able to get a license in a few weeks,” he said. “But, depending on the state, it can take as long as six to nine months to get a license.”
The compact—a legally binding agreement among states—was developed by the FSMB, which is composed of the agencies that license and discipline physicians. Dr. Thomas, a member of the Minnesota Board of Medical Practice, said that if it is passed, the law would greatly speed up the licensure process. Once a physician has a license in one state and meets eligibility requirements, that physician will be able to obtain a license instantly in any other compact state.
According to Humayun J. Chaudhry, DO, MS, president and chief executive officer of the FSMB, based in Washington, DC, and Euless, Texas, the compact is the fastest-moving initiative in the organization’s 102-year history. It could help to promote the ability of more physicians to see more patients, a definite plus as more and more people gain access to healthcare under the Affordable Care Act.
Mari Robinson, JD, executive director of the Texas Medical Board, said her agency supports the compact because it allows for increased efficiencies for physician applicants. “They would no longer have to go through the requirements of providing primary source documentation to each state,” she said. “Much of that information is static anyway—medical degrees from schools don’t change.”