Telemedicine a top concern for state medical boards

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Telemedicine—including interstate licensure—is a top concern among state medical boards.

With a broader focus on expanding telehealth services to more patients, the majority of state medical boards around the country view regulations about providing remote care as a top priority in the coming year. 

Three-fourths of the state medical boards surveyed (PDF) by the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) ranked telemedicine as one of the most important topics facing their board in 2017.

Rounding out the top five: 

  • Resources related to opioid prescribing
  • The Interstate Medical Licensure Compact (IMLC)
  • Physician reentry into practice
  • Medical marijuana

Although the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) has tried to expand coverage requirements for telehealth, reimbursement is still a persistent hurdle for widespread adoption. The recently signed 21st Century Cures Act will increase access to telehealth services for Medicare beneficiaries. But expanding access puts more pressure on states and physicians to navigate licensing laws.

RELATED: 3 ways to ensure telehealth doesn't burden systems

Nearly half of survey respondents also listed the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact, finalized by the FSMB in 2014, as a top five concern in 2017. To date, 18 states have enacted the interstate compact allowing physicians to practice in multiple states.

Over the past year, more states have pushed to adopt telemedicine practice standards and remote prescribing rules, and insurers have urged the feds to remove regulatory barriers to telehealth coverage.

A large majority, 70% of survey respondents said opioid prescribing is a primary concern moving forward. Earlier this year, the U.S. Surgeon General recommended all doctors receive opioid training, while state prosecutors and insurers are targeting high prescribers.

Physician reentry into practice and medical marijuana were also listed among the top five concerns.