Should State Licensure for Pharmacists Be Modified for Telemedicine?

Recent advances in the delivery of health care through technology may be getting thwarted by state licensure of health care professionals.

Recent advances in the delivery of health care through technology may be getting thwarted by state licensure of health care professionals, according to a Wall Street Journal article.

The solution proposed by promotors of the telemedicine industry, which is purported to grow to revenues of $1.9 billion by 2018, is to do away with the requirement for nurses to be licensed in each state where they work. Instead, hospitals and some nursing groups are promoting multistate agreements that would allow any nurse licensed in one state to work in all states that have signed onto the compact. This seems to make some sense, since nursing, like pharmacy, uses a single examination to qualify for licensure in most states.

Now that pharmacy has made headway in telehealth, a similar problem exists for pharmacists.

If pharmacists want to deliver care across state lines through the use of technology, most states require them to be licensed in the state where that care is delivered. From a company’s point of view, this can become onerous and provides little benefit in assuring the quality of care delivered.

If the effort to expand the number of states signed onto nursing compacts is successful, then I believe incorporating other health care professionals in these compacts will be pursued. Pharmacy organizations should look at this health policy issue before it becomes a legislative one and form an appropriate position on it.

I like the idea of maintaining state licensure but allowing states to sign onto regional compacts so that care can be delivered across state lines. Maintaining state licensure will still give the states control, which should satisfy those who support state rights, as well as those who want a national license.

What do you think?