Interstate medical licensure reciprocity is not a new concept (Hashed worked with the State of Illinois on a solution for this problem in 2017). For years, there have been compacts that, in theory, streamline licensure across state lines. However, these efforts have not achieved widespread adoption. The HHS announcement will immediately catalyze telemedicine services across the country and allow clinicians to provide remote services wherever needed.
Previously, the requirements for practitioners to be licensed in the state where services are provided created a self-imposed barrier to telemedicine. These licensing restrictions limited the ability to target specific communities due to the cost and time required for burdensome licensure activities. Now the costs previously associated with obtaining and renewing those licenses can be reinvested to both enhance those firm’s overall offerings and greatly reduce the friction involved in scaling their businesses.
The COVID-19 crisis is creating pockets of demand for clinicians in specific geographies where the disease is prevalent. These changes in regulatory policy now allow telemedicine firms to address that demand directly. We are also seeing demand for retired physicians to renew their license and assist in providing basic general practitioner activities to support demand for care. Both the relaxation of licensing restrictions and the expansion of reimbursement rules to align more closely with in-person care, creates the incentives needed to grow these services accordingly. The crisis may finally be the catalyst needed for adoption, unleashing telemedicine business models that have until now been limited.