State licensing boards establish the conditions under which health care providers may practice within their state. In general, states require practitioners to be licensed in the state in which they practice medicine. Before the advent of telehealth, the state where practitioners worked and the state where patients received treatment were almost always the same. However, since telehealth allows practitioners and patients to be located in different locations—a patient in Florida may want to seek treatment from a doctor in New York—this condition is no longer necessarily true. This has raised legal challenges for providers wishing to provide telehealth services as the rules for licensing vary by jurisdiction. In addition, since health care providers cannot practice medicine without a proper license, a telehealth provider would potentially have to obtain a separate license for every state. These legal complexities create a costly and cumbersome process that impairs the widespread adoption of telehealth.
To address this challenge and further enhance development of telehealth services, Congress should establish a single, national license for telehealth providers.