State laws related to telehealth services and how they vary

When it comes to the workforce under health care, it is stretched to its absolute limit in the majority of the states. The demand is surpassing the supply when it comes to the healthcare provider despite many efforts from the state, federal and local communities. It is due to this crisis that telehealth services have become a beacon for everyone in the medical community. Not only is it cost-effective but also a good substitute for the traditional way of treatment provided by the hospitals to its patients.

What Is Telehealth?

Telehealth is the distribution of health-related services and information via electronic information and telecommunication technologies.

The definition provided by the Department of Health and Human Services, Telehealth refers to the technology used which helps in delivering proper health education or health information and health care. The three main kinds of telehealth applications that are used are;

  • Store-and-forward: The transmission of images, data, video, or sound from one of the care sites to the other for evaluation purposes.


  • Real-time communication: This helps the patients to get in touch with their medical providers through the help of telephone, video conference, or even through health monitoring devices.


  • Patient remote monitoring: This refers to the collection of the vital signs of the patients along with all the other essential health data. This all happens while the patient stays at their home or any of the sites. The data is then transferred to a distant medical provider for the purpose of monitoring.

The concept of mobile health which is also abbreviated as m-health is also an important aspect under telehealth, that is getting quite the attention these days. Health information, education, or any other health-related services via mobile phones are the main aspects of m-health. However, when it comes to state policies m-health applications tend to be uncommon. 

How Do Telehealth Laws and Regulations Vary By State?

There are certain things you should keep in mind when it comes to Telehealth laws and regulations. They tend to vary for every state. 

  1. Firstly, one of the key things that you have to make sure of, is the fact that you have a proper license that allows you to legally practice telehealth and provide all the services to your patients. If, however, your patient is not currently present in your state, you are allowed to practice telehealth services under the practice laws for a temporary period of time. 

    Temporary practice laws help medical providers who have a license for a single state to practice their profession in another state (such as twenty days in one year). It might also need certain other requirements including the acquisition of a temporary license or a permit. But, this law is not applicable to every state out there. In order to know about a state’s temporary practice laws, you must contact the state board.


  2. Secondly, if your patient has moved out of your state to a completely different one, the temporary practice laws might not be applicable then. Your patient would benefit the most if they transition completely to their respective state’s medical professional.


  3. You must have telehealth licensing when you want to continue your practice anywhere. It can be quite a challenging task when you are trying to find out about the licensing laws in other states or countries but a relevant medical association can be a good place where you can start. Patient welfare and clinical issues are also two important aspects that you should also remember. For instance, you need to think about the cultural differences (when practicing in a different country). You also need to make sure all the resources needed are available to you. You may also have to look for skilled medical professionals in the country, and many more.


  4. The majority of the state does not have medical prerequisites that need to be initiated while treating your patient. Your proficiency might be enough to start your patient’s treatment when you are in a different state. However, it is always important to keep your patient’s best interests in mind. If proper services are present, then your patient might just benefit more from the local medical professionals who can provide their services.


  5. Medical trainees are not allowed to provide telehealth services to the patients. Only licensed medical professionals are the ones who can do so. However, when practicing in other states as has been mentioned above, looking at the temporary practice laws is important along with a proper medical license. 

What To Know About Doing Telehealth In A Different State?

Future of Telehealth Threatened by Battles Over State Lines

When it comes to the topic of telehealth, it is often inter-jurisdictional – meaning that it stretches beyond the borders of a state or a country. A medical practitioner is allowed to provide their services to their respective clients when they are not even present in the same state or country. For instance, a medical professional whose license is based in the US can treat their patient in a different country, given the fact that their patient has moved from the US to another country. 

Traditionally speaking, the license for any medical practice is regulated and defined by each state separately. Therefore, each medical practice has different requirements in each state and every medical professional have to follow those regulations quite strictly if they want to continue their practice. 

One of the reasons to have state-specific laws is the fact that each discipline requires laws that are unique and suit the practice. Every practice’s medical requirements are different. Another important reason to have state telehealth policies is the fact that the territorial agendas for each state are involved in it – the need to safeguard the income of the local medical professionals especially for states that are not densely populated from being invaded by medical practitioners from the other states. 

The majority of these medical laws were written in the mid of the 20th century. It is quite evident that these licensing laws are quite obsolete and are not up to the standard of the digital world. Telehealth laws by state 2021 are still the same. Even though some states have addressed the issue of telehealth services, not everyone has been able to do so. Some of them are not even up-to-date when it comes to cross-border medical licensing. 

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