State Licensure Requirements for Telepsychiatry
A number of states have imposed certain licensure requirements and other preconditions for the practice of telemedicine. By its nature, telemedicine is practicable across state lines. Many states still require physicians to hold in-state medical licenses to practice telepsychiatry with patients inside the state. Many of these states, however, are adopting more lax approaches to interstate practice, in response to the expansion of the telemedicine industry and other interstate practices. Additionally, many states put into effect emergency authorizations allowing for the easier practice of telemedicine in light of the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. The telepsychiatry practitioners operating with Orbit Health are on top of all state licensure requirements, obviating any risk of running afoul of state medical boards.
Interstate Medical Licensure Compact
The Interstate Medical Licensure Compact is a voluntary Compact offering expedited licensing for qualified physicians who intend to practice in multiple states. Member states allow physicians who are licensed in one state and who obtain the appropriate interstate license to practice telemedicine with patients inside the state. The interstate license is still issued by the state, but the process for obtaining the interstate license is much more simplified and expedited than obtaining a traditional medical license within the state.
Currently, 29 states as well as the District of Columbia and the Territory of Guam are part of the Compact. Physicians can apply through the Compact to receive a Letter of Qualification from a State of Principal License (SPL). The physician must have a full, unrestricted medical license in a state that is a member of the Compact and must satisfy other general eligibility requirements pertaining to education, training, certifications, etc. The Compact has greatly eased the process for practicing telepsychiatry in many states across the country.
Telepsychiatry License Requirements Vary by State
Some states that have not adopted the Compact still require physicians to be fully licensed within the state in order to practice telepsychiatry with in-state patients. Other states allow the practice of telemedicine so long as the practitioner obtains a telemedicine-specific license, even if they are located within the state. Some states have additional, burdensome requirements such as requiring that a physician meets with a patient in person at least once before starting telepsychiatry. Many of these restrictions were eased as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, however, as state legislatures and medical boards recognized the need for telemedicine to keep medical care accessible without risking contamination.
According to the Federation of State Medical Boards, as of March 31, 2021, 41 states have adopted waivers of various restrictions and licensure requirements for the practice of telemedicine (including practice across state lines), as did the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, and Guam. Many of these were temporary waivers intended to last only until the pandemic is contained. We are optimistic that more states will recognize the importance of telepsychiatry and other telemedicine practices in light of the vital need it served throughout the last year. For the moment, however, telepsychiatry licensure requirements do vary significantly by state.
If you are a healthcare provider in need of psychiatric services and would benefit from a variety of qualified, experienced, and professional psychiatric care specialists, the telepsychiatry experts at Orbit Health are ready and able to advise on the telepsychiatry requirements in your home state. Call Orbit Health to discuss your options for telepsychiatry today.