In addition, because technology is bringing about more advancements such as TeleStroke in emergency rooms, which allows hospitals without a staff neurologist to treat stroke patients, it makes good sense to better enable licensure portability.
Explore This IssueSeptember 2014
FSMB data show that of the 878,000 actively licensed physicians in the United States, 6% have three or more licenses to practice medicine in multiple states. “I expect those percentages to increase as physicians develop a comfort level in using technology to deliver care to more areas,” Dr. Chaudhry said. “Over time, for those physicians who want to practice in multiple jurisdictions, the compact will offer an avenue that wasn’t available before and streamline the process.” For instance, a physician practicing near the Virginia border would find it much easier to open a second practice in neighboring Washington, DC or Maryland.
From another perspective, medical boards could more easily work together on any investigative issues or concerns that arise. “It allows board authorities to share information and retain the law of confidentiality,” Robinson said. “This will readily allow for groups to have all the information they need about an individual at any given time as he or she goes through an investigation. It will enable streamlining of any enforcement actions of a significant nature.”
For example, if the state of Oklahoma revoked a physician’s compact license, this would allow the state of Texas to mimic Oklahoma’s action and revoke its license as well. “So Texas patients would be protected because the physician couldn’t leave Oklahoma and go and practice in Texas as he waits for disciplinary action to catch up with him,” Robinson said.
Dr. Chaudhry believes the compact would benefit patients because, like physicians, they are becoming increasingly mobile. “If a patient has a physician in one location and the patient relocates, she may still be able to see that physician if she uses telemedicine,” he said. This could ensure continuity of care.
In addition, a specialist with a narrow area of expertise could offer advice and, potentially, treatment across state lines to a patient who otherwise would have had to fly in to the physician. “Over the long term, this may also support the nation’s access to care needs—particularly for individuals in rural or underserved areas,” Dr. Chaudhry said.
Particularly important to state medical boards is the fact that patients would retain the ability to contact those agencies and report any problems or issues regarding a physician.
How Participation Works
To participate in the compact, a physician will have to identify a principal state of licensure (where the physician primarily practices or resides) and be board certified in a specialty. That state will be responsible for evaluating the physician’s credentials to participate in the compact. “If a physician is interested in applying for licensure in other jurisdictions, it could be as simple as checking off those states he wants to practice in,” said Dr. Chaudhry. “He could then become eligible for a license in that state almost automatically, as long as the state was a member of the interstate compact.”