Perhaps the most complex issues associated with telehealth are the legal issues. A thorough understanding of the legal and regulatory issues associated with telehealth is critical to successful deployment. One legal expert in the field is Nathaniel Lacktman. He publishes frequently and has recently provided a recap of telehealth policy issues. Another legal expert is Alexis Gilroy. Below is a list of common issues and resources to assist you in investigating the licensing, credentialing and privileging legal implications for your organization.
Licensure: Telehealth services require that the physician be licensed in the state where the patient is physically located. Because states license physicians and there is no federal mechanism to license physicians, the question of license portability has been investigated. A compact is in process. HRSA provided a comprehensive review of licensure with specific attention paid to telehealth with its Senate report 111-66.
Comprehensive 50-state legal survey: A 50-State Survey of Telehealth legalities can be found at the American Health Lawyers Association (AHLA) site. There is a fee but it is an excellent resource.
Licensure gap analysis: A 50-state gap analysis associated with physician practice standards and licensure can be found at the American Telemedicine Association site.
Credentialing and Privileging: Credentialing and privileging is a challenging issue for telehealth practitioners and the organizations that wish to use them. CMS issued a final rule in July, 2011. And cTel provides an analysis and explanation here.
More legal resources to assist you in navigating telehealth legalities are:
- Alexis Gilroy, JD Jones Day partner interviewed regarding healthcare policy.
- Health Care Law Today
- Center for Connected Health Policy
- Health Affairs
- cTel: Center for Telehealth and eHealth Law