Credentialing for Telemedicine

Law and Ethics


Vital Signs: November 2011

In the November 2010 Law and Ethics column of Vital Signs, we highlighted a number of legal issues surrounding the practice of telemedicine.

Since then, one issue has been resolved: for the purpose of meeting Conditions of Participation (CoP) for Medicaid and Medicare, hospitals may, in some circumstances, rely upon the privileging and credentialing process of the facility where the physician is located (the "distant site").

If the distant site is a Medicare-certified hospital, there must be a written agreement between the hospital and the distant site stating that:

  • The distant site is a Medicare-participating hospital
  • The physician has privileges at the distant site
  • The physician has a license recognized in the state in which the receiving hospital is located
  • The receiving hospital reviews the physician's performance and reports adverse events and complaints to the distant site

If the distant site is not a Medicare-certified hospital, then the hospital and distant site must have a written agreement stating that the distant site provides services so as to meet certain regulatory credentialing requirements and applicable CoPs for the service being provided.

Even though the issue of hospital credentialing for telemedicine has been resolved, the issue of licensure for such practice has not. Thus, a Massachusetts physician contemplating practicing telemedicine should be familiar with the regulations of the state in which the patient is located and take care when seeking input from an out-of-state physician, as BRM regulations prohibit a physician from aiding an unlicensed individual to perform actions for which a license is required.

- Liz Rover Bailey, Esq.

The "Law and Ethics" column is provided for education purposes and should not be constituted as legal advice. Readers with specific legal questions should consult with a private attorney.

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