Telemedicine top priority for state medical boards in 2017

In a survey of 57 medical boards in U.S. states and territories, telemedicine was the most common choice when ranking the most important regulatory topics in 2017.

Boards were asked to choose five of the most important policy areas in a survey from the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB). 75 percent include telemedicine on that list.

“The world of medical licensure and regulation is rapidly evolving, and it’s important that we have our finger on the pulse of what’s driving that change,” said FSMB President and CEO Humayun J. Chaudhry, DO. “Increasing our awareness of which topics our member boards are most focused on enables us to become a more effective partner in providing them with the tools and resources they need to accomplish their mission.”

Other leading topics included “resources related to opioid prescribing” (picked by 70 percent of respondents), Interstate Medical Licensure Compact (47 percent), physician reentry into practice (44 percent) and medical marijuana (42 percent).

FSMB updated its model telemedicine policy in 2014 with guidelines that “support a consistent standard of care and scope of practice notwithstanding the delivery tool or business method in enabling physician-to-patient communications. A physician using telemedicine technologies in the provision of medical services to a patient (whether existing or new) must take appropriate steps to establish the physician-patient relationship and conduct all appropriate evaluations and history of the patient consistent with traditional standards of care for the particular patient presentation.”

Telehealth is one area where major medical associations could find a receptive partner in the incoming administration of President-elect Donald Trump. The American College of Physicians told its members after the election it expected expanding access to telemedicine to be on the agenda for the next Congress.