The United States is currently confronting an access-to-healthcare crisis, which rural regions are experiencing at a disproportionate rate. Many commentators have touted telemedicine as a solution for the access-to-care issue. Telemedicine uses video and telecommunication technology to allow physicians to treat patients from distant locations and thus facilitates a more equal distribution of physicians throughout the United States.
Although the telemedicine industry is quickly growing, the corporate practice of medicine doctrine impedes the industry’s expansion and consequently obstructs a viable solution to the access-to-care crisis. Generally, the corporate practice of medicine doctrine prohibits corporations and limited liability companies from employing physicians. The doctrine stems from a concern that the corporate business model’s inherent focus on the “bottom line” will inevitably require the sacrifice of quality care for efficiency.
States should abandon the corporate practice of medicine doctrine because the concerns that the doctrine seeks to address are ill-founded and do not account for the modern state of the healthcare industry. Further, corporate telemedical providers that furnish substandard care would be prime targets for class action lawsuits or widespread litigation due to telemedicine’s expansive reach and the corporate form’s ability to facilitate business growth. Lawsuits, including class actions, will effectively deter any degradation in quality of care because corporations who render substandard care would face immense liability-risk exposure and a critical ultimatum: reform or fail.
Dr. Tele-Corporation: Bridging the Access-to-Care Gap,
Dick. L. Rev.
Available at: https://ideas.dickinsonlaw.psu.edu/dlr/vol123/iss2/5
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