Medical Boards: Impact of Growing Virtual Care and Need for Integrated Approach to Enhance Quality and Safety
Keywords:digital health, medical board oversight, National Practitioner Data Bank, quality, telehealth, virtual care
The increased amount of virtual care during the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated the challenge of providing appropriate medical board oversight to ensure proper quality of care delivery and safety of patients. This is partly due to the conventional model of each state medical board (SMB) holding responsibility for medical standards and oversight only within the jurisdiction of that state board and partly due to regulatory waivers and reduced enforcement of privacy policies. Even with a revoked license in one state, significant number of physicians have continued to practice by obtaining a medical license in a different state. Individualized requests were sent to 63 medical boards with questions related to practice of telemedicine and digital health by debarred or penalized medical doctors. The responses revealed major deficiencies and the urgent need to adopt a nationwide framework and to create an anchor point to serve as the coordinator of all relevant information related to incidents of improper medical practice. The ability to cause damage to large number of patients is significantly more now. Federal and state agencies urgently need to provide more attention and funding to issues related to quality of care and patient care in the changing ecosystem that includes medical specialists at a distance and the use of evolving digital health services and products. The creation, maintenance, and use of an integrated information system at national and multinational levels is increasingly important.
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