If you are interested in offering a second opinion service as a specialist, this article is for you. State telemedicine policy for second medical opinions is evolving in the right direction. In most states, you may not need a license to offer a clinical second opinion to patients there.
As an oncologist, you likely work in a traditional brick-and-mortar practice affiliated with a hospital or standalone infusion center. The insurance company pushes patients to your practice and that’s also where most of your profits disappear.
Alternatively, you can offer second medical opinions to patients looking for an alternative or the ideal treatment protocol for their condition. This would often be cash-pay, and you’d pocket most of the profits.
I continue to be impressed with the state of WA regarding their state medical board. They are both patient friendly and seem genuine about the practice of medicine.
Their recent Telemedicine Policy statement highlighted that they would allow specialist consults and second medical opinions from outside providers without the need for a state medical license.
WA isn’t the only state, but I think this is an essential direction for telehealth. This improves access and prevents poor practices from taking hold locally.
Reference: Policy Number POL2021-02
Second Medical Opinions
I have been following the second medical opinion space closely. It’s a burgeoning field in healthcare but it hasn’t taken off.
Lack of transparency in healthcare leads to patients suffering from defensive medicine, profit maximization, and provider convenience.
Books like Hype make it seem like there is only one way to practice medicine; in this case, the author is perhaps heavily biased by her career at UCLA.
A second medical opinion can be lucrative for the clinician and incredibly convenient for the patient. Both parties can benefit and it doesn’t have to go through the insurance process.
Individual State Regulations
It’s pretty time-consuming to figure out each state’s telemedicine rules and regulations. The more important question to ask yourself is whether you need that big of a customer base. Could you handle the volume?
There are telehealth attorneys who can do the research for you. Most have access to such a database and can share it with you.
There are independent companies that have been established for just this purpose. They curate extensive lists of telemedicine rules and regulations by each state. They will sell this to you for a subscription.
If you don’t want to pay for a subscription you can narrow down the states on NCSL and check out the state medical board site for details.
Changing Rules & Regulations
State telemedicine rules for second medical opinions have indeed changed constantly. But the change is slowing down as telehealth matures.
If you start a second medical opinion practice, you must stay on top of changing regulations. Nobody will take you to jail for missing a deadline for rule changes. But revisiting the rules every 12 months should be part of your business practice.
Telemedicine laws are going to evolve to help drive more insurance profits. That’s how the US legal system works – policy is passed based on the wealthiest lobbyists.
For the time being, healthcare access is suffering so we can expect at least a few more years of rules protecting patients and doctors.