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Should the ability to practice of telehealth be managed at the state or federal level?

Common debate and our topic for Today in Health IT.


States currently define telemedicine by the location of the patient, not the physician, which can create barriers for practicing via telemedicine. 

In a July 20 Wall Street Journal op-ed, Joseph Bernstein, MD, and Shirley Svorny, PhD, shared insights on state licensing laws and why they believe the regulations are restricting virtual care practices. 

"Why not define the location of telemedicine treatment, via an act of Congress, as the doctor's location?" she wrote. "Seeking care from an out-of-state physician via telemedicine would be treated no different from traveling to the physician’s office for care." 

Dr. Bernstein, an orthopedic surgery professor at University of Pennsylvania, wrote that state licensing laws should be changed since all the information "a state may use to evaluate a physician is issued and verified by countrywide organizations." He pointed out that, in his case, he passed the U.S. Medical Licensing Examination and has been certified by the American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery. 

"Let’s be honest," Dr. Bernstein wrote. "State opposition to medical-licensure reciprocity is all about protecting local physicians from competition."


Telehealth will be where we battle for the first dollar of care and determine who directs downstream care. What are your thoughts on this debate?

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