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Licensure Compacts Gain Ground as a Means to Expand Telehealth

Interstate licensure compacts for physicians, physical therapists and nurses are all showing growth as more states join in to make it easier to practice telehealth across state lines.

Source: ThinkStock

By Eric Wicklund

- More than 3,000 US physicians have received permission to practice in multiple states through the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact, giving them the opportunity to expand their practice through telehealth and telemedicine.

According to the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact Commission, a branch of the Federation of State Medical Boards, 3,426 medical licenses have been by medical boards in member states since the launch of the Compact in April 2017. The IMLCC, meanwhile, has processed 1,867 applications and 497 licenses have been renewed through the compact.

“The rise in the number of physicians utilizing the Compact process is testament to its success,” FSMB President and CEO Humayun Chaudhry, DO, said in a press release. “Reducing barriers to practicing in multiple states is allowing qualified physicians to reach more patients and improve access to care. We commend the leadership of the IMLCC for their tireless work and congratulate them on reaching such an important milestone.” 

Launched as a means of expediting the licensure process for physicians looking to practice in more than one state, the compact has been approved in the District of Colombia, Guam and 24 states: Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Idaho, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin and Wyoming.

As of November 2018, one other state, Michigan, is contemplating legislation to join the compact.

The compact is one of three currently in operation.

The Physical Therapy Compact, developed by the Federation of State Boards of Physical Therapy for PTs and physical therapist assistants, became live on July 9.

Six states – Oregon, North Dakota, Utah, Missouri, Tennessee and Mississippi – are now active, while another 15 states – Washington, Montana, Arizona, Colorado, Nebraska, Iowa, Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, Kentucky, West Virginia, South Carolina, North Carolina, New Jersey and New Hampshire – have enacted legislation but aren’t yet processing licenses. One other state, Pennsylvania, is considering legislation.

The Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC), overseen by the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, went live as the Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact in January 2018 and was revised in July. That compact creates an expedited licensing [process for registered nurses (RNs) and licensed practical/vocational nurses (LPN/VNs) in member states.

To date, 30 states have joined the compact, with Louisiana and Kansas set to join in 2019. Another state, Rhode Island, had been a part of the compact but dropped out in July.

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