Effective February 3, 2022, the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Medicine (BoRM), which oversees the licensing of physicians and the practice of medicine, updated its “Commonwealth Telemedicine Policy” ( Policy) to provide more guidance to licensed physicians on the use of telemedicine in practice. BoRM originally released this policy in 2020 amid the outbreak of COVID-19 and the corresponding significant expansion of telemedicine and other telehealth care delivery models for patients and providers.
BoRM has now expanded the policy to provide specific guidance on when a physician providing telemedicine care is practicing in Massachusetts, and therefore, subject to licensure and regulation by BoRM: the policy states that BoRM “considers a physician to practice medicine in Massachusetts when the patient is physically located in Massachusetts. The policy continues to state that, as long as the physician’s license in question does not limit the physician’s location, a physician licensed in Massachusetts does not need to be in a particular location (in-state or out-of-state) to practice medicine for Massachusetts patients. The policy further clarifies that references to the ” telemedicine” include the remote delivery models included in the statutory definition of “telehealth” under Massachusetts law, which would also include interactive audio-video, su remote patient monitoring, audio-only phone calls and online adaptive interviews. .
The policy also states that “the practice of medicine shall not require a face-to-face physician-patient encounter prior to the provision of telemedicine health care,” but that the standard of care for telemedicine services remains the same. than for -personal health care services.
BoRM’s update of this policy appears to be beneficial to a provider community that has integrated telehealth into its care delivery models as the COVID-19 public health emergency continues, and provides support for an offer additional telehealth services by physicians to maintain access to care for Massachusetts patients. The policy can also serve as a reminder to unlicensed physicians in Massachusetts that providing telemedicine care to a patient in Massachusetts may be construed as practicing medicine in Massachusetts and therefore subject to licensing. .