Licensing and Credentialing of Telehealth Programs
Licensing and credentialing telehealth providers can pose challenges to expanding telehealth programs in rural
communities. Licensing refers to the process of securing the
authority to practice medicine within a state. Credentialing refers to the process of verifying the provider's
license, education, insurance, and other information to ensure they meet the standards of practice required by
the hospital or healthcare facility. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many state governments made
changes to licensing and credentialing processes to facilitate telehealth access.
Licensing and credentialing are intended to protect patients by ensuring that telehealth providers are in
compliance with state regulations and hospital policies. However, licensing and credentialing can be
time-consuming administrative processes, and rural telehealth programs with limited resources may become
burdened by renewing licenses for providers to practice in several states and hospitals. In addition, states
require medical licenses to be renewed periodically, typically every one to two years.
Some states and associations are taking steps to increase the portability of clinical licenses. For example, the
Federation of State Medical Boards offers the Federation Credentials
Verification Service and the Uniform Application for
Licensure, streamlines the application process for physicians and physician assistants. Several states
also participate in interstate compacts
for healthcare providers, which facilitate multi-state licensing. Some licensure compacts, such as the Nurse Licensure Compact, grant providers one multi-state
license that allows eligible providers to practice in all participating states. Others, such as the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact, create an expedited pathway for
licensure that makes it easier for providers to apply for multiple licenses. The Center for Connected Health
Policy also provides details about cross-state licensing
for every state.
Rural communities seeking to streamline the telehealth credentialing process should be aware of credentialing
by proxy. Credentialing by proxy can help rural programs expand telehealth services by allowing
hospitals, including Critical Access Hospitals (the originating sites of telehealth), to rely on the
credentialing process of distant telehealth sites. The California Telehealth Resource Center offers a privileging
and credentialing checklist that can help rural communities shape the written agreement between the
originating and distant sites. Provider
Bridge also offers a technology platform to streamline the licensure process, which may help rural
communities to mobilize healthcare providers quickly during states of emergency.
Resources to Learn More
Multi-Discipline Licensure Resource Project
Provides information on emergency regulations and licensing for occupational and physical therapists,
psychologists, and social workers. Resources include state-specific information related to licensure,
telehealth, COVID-19, and online and phone support.
Connects healthcare professionals with state agencies and healthcare entities to increase access to care for
patients in rural and underserved communities, and assists in mobilizing volunteer healthcare professionals
during public health emergencies. Features COVID-19 resources including state-by-state emergency telehealth
information. Provides links to help providers find answers to telehealth licensure questions.
Organization(s): Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB)