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Everything you need to know about the IMLC and interstate licensure

No two cross-state licensure processes are alike. Here's why turning to the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact (IMLC) could benefit your organization and how to leverage it.

Not all licensure processes are created equal. Whether the demands of your organization require a shift to practice in two or multiple states, the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact (IMLC) is a game-changing solution designed to address this need, and it offers numerous benefits for both physicians and patients. 

We talked with Medallion’s Director of Licensing, Merritt Miller, about the ins and outs of the IMLC, including why joining it is a wise decision for healthcare organizations  looking to speed up licensure and expand their reach across state lines.

What is the IMLC?

The IMLC is an agreement among participating states that aims to simplify and expedite the licensure process for physicians who wish to practice medicine in multiple states. By joining the IMLC, healthcare organizations can significantly reduce the amount of time and paperwork involved in obtaining multiple licenses, ultimately allowing physicians to focus on what matters most: providing high-quality healthcare to their patients.

IMLC map

The need for streamlined licensure

As the healthcare landscape continues to evolve, there is a growing demand for streamlined licensure processes. Several factors contribute to this need, including the rapid expansion of telemedicine services, increased physician mobility, and the challenges associated with traditional state-by-state licensure.

“Without a doubt, in today's environment, we need a licensing process that's both efficient and focused on patient safety. The old way of getting licensed state-by-state can be a real hassle, taking up months of time and a ton of paperwork,” says Merritt Miller, Director of Licensing at Medallion. “There’s definitely room to improve.”

The increased demand for telemedicine services

Telemedicine has seen a dramatic surge in popularity in recent years. According to a study conducted by FAIR Health, telehealth claim lines increased by 3,060% between October 2019 and October 2020, with virtual visits becoming an essential healthcare delivery method during the COVID-19 pandemic. The growth of telemedicine has created a need for physicians to be licensed in multiple states, as patients now have the option to access care from providers beyond their immediate geographical area.

The increased need for physicians to practice across state lines

In addition to telemedicine, healthcare organizations are becoming more integrated and interconnected, necessitating seamless collaboration between physicians across state lines. The Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) projects a shortage of up to 139,000 physicians by 2033, further emphasizing the importance of optimizing licensure processes to ensure that patients have access to the care they need, regardless of their location.

The challenges of traditional state-by-state licensure

The traditional process of obtaining a medical license in each state where a physician wants to practice can be time-consuming and burdensome. Physicians often face duplicative paperwork, lengthy wait times, and inconsistent requirements across states. This process can be particularly frustrating for healthcare providers who are eager to expand their practice and deliver care to patients in need across state borders.

The IMLC offers a solution to these challenges by streamlining the licensure process for physicians, making it easier for them to practice in multiple states and meet the growing demand for telemedicine and cross-border healthcare services.

Advantages of the IMLC for healthcare organizations

Joining the IMLC comes with a host of benefits for healthcare organizations, making it an attractive choice for those looking to expand their reach and enhance their ability to deliver care across state lines. 

“The IMLC has truly been a turning point in the provider licensure process, making it faster and more convenient for healthcare companies. It's high time more states jump on board and embrace this forward-thinking approach – it's mutually beneficial for everyone, says Merritt.”

Key advantages include an expedited licensure process, improved access to healthcare for patients, and enhanced physician mobility.

Expedited licensure process

Streamlined approach: The IMLC simplifies the licensure process for eligible physicians, allowing them to obtain licenses in multiple participating states using a single application. This not only saves time but also reduces the administrative burden associated with obtaining individual state licenses.

Reduction in time-consuming paperwork and bureaucracy: The IMLC's centralized process eliminates the need for duplicative paperwork and streamlines the verification of credentials, allowing physicians to obtain licenses in a more efficient and timely manner. This is particularly beneficial for physicians aiming to deliver telemedicine services or practice in underserved areas.

Improved access to healthcare for patients

Telemedicine service expansion: By expediting the licensure process, the IMLC enables physicians to more easily offer their services through telemedicine platforms, expanding access to healthcare for patients in rural or underserved areas. This is especially important in light of the rapid growth in telehealth demand.

Easier collaboration between physicians across states: The IMLC fosters collaboration between physicians practicing in different states, allowing them to share knowledge and expertise to improve patient care. This is particularly relevant for patients with complex medical conditions who may require input from specialists located in different states.

Enhanced physician mobility

Simplified transition to practice in multiple states: The IMLC expedites the process of obtaining licenses in multiple states, making it easier for physicians to explore new practice opportunities or respond to emerging healthcare needs across state lines.

Increased opportunities for professional growth: The ability to practice in multiple states can open up new career possibilities and professional development opportunities for physicians, allowing them to expand their skill set and contribute to the advancement of healthcare in various regions.

Requirements for joining the IMLC

To become a part of the IMLC, physicians must meet certain eligibility criteria, ensuring that only qualified and competent practitioners can benefit from the streamlined licensure process. Understanding these requirements is crucial for provider groups considering joining the compact.

Overview of eligibility criteria

  1. Unrestricted medical license: Physicians must hold a full and unrestricted medical license in a participating IMLC state, also known as the "State of Principal License" (SPL).

  2. Board certification: Physicians should possess a specialty board certification or be in possession of a time-unlimited specialty certificate.

  3. No history of disciplinary actions: To be eligible, physicians must not have any history of disciplinary actions, license revocation, or felony convictions within the past three years.

  4. Medical education and examinations: Candidates must have successfully completed a graduate medical education program accredited by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME) or the American Osteopathic Association (AOA). They should also have passed the United States Medical Licensing Examination (USMLE) or the Comprehensive Osteopathic Medical Licensing Examination (COMLEX-USA).

Primary state of residence and licensure considerations

Physicians must also meet at least one of the below requirements: 

  1. Primary residence: Designate a participating IMLC state as their SPL, which is typically their primary state of residence. This SPL will be responsible for verifying the physician's eligibility and conducting background checks.

  2. Area of practice: At least 25% of their practice of medicine occurs in the SPL.

  3. Employer status: Employed to practice medicine by a person, business or organization located in the SPL.

  4. Tax reporting: Physicians use the SPL as their state of residence for the U.S. Federal Income Tax purposes.

Commitment to upholding IMLC's standards and regulations

By joining the IMLC, physicians agree to adhere to the compact's regulations and standards, which are designed to ensure patient safety and maintain the integrity of the medical profession.

Success stories and testimonials

Healthcare organizations and physicians across the country have experienced the benefits of joining the IMLC firsthand. For example, a 2020 survey conducted by the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) found that over 10,000 licenses had been issued through the IMLC since its inception in 2017. This demonstrates the IMLC's significant impact on improving licensure efficiency and promoting access to healthcare across state lines.

Physician testimonials often highlight the ease of the application process and the time saved by utilizing the IMLC, enabling them to focus on patient care instead of navigating complex administrative tasks.

Steps to join the IMLC

Detailed description of the application process

  1. Determine eligibility: Physicians should first review the IMLC eligibility requirements and ensure they meet the criteria.

  2. Identify the SPL: Designate a participating IMLC state as the SPL.

  3. Complete the application: Physicians should submit an online application through the IMLC's website, providing the necessary documentation and paying the associated fees. (P.S., You and your providers are not alone in this process. See how Medallion can help.)

  4. Await licensure approval: The SPL will review the application, verify credentials, and conduct background checks. Once approved, the physician will receive a Letter of Qualification, allowing them to apply for licenses in other participating states.

Resources for navigating the IMLC application

The IMLC website offers a wealth of resources to guide physicians through the application process, including FAQs, webinars, and detailed guides. Additionally, state medical boards can provide assistance and answer questions related to the IMLC application.

The role of the IMLC Commission in guiding applicants

The IMLC Commission oversees the compact's operations and ensures that participating states maintain a high standard of licensure. They also provide support and guidance to physicians seeking to join the IMLC.

The multi-state licensure challenge 

The IMLC presents a valuable opportunity for provider groups to expedite the licensure process, enabling physicians to practice across state lines more efficiently. By joining the IMLC, physicians can better serve their patients, improve access to healthcare, and expand their professional career.

“The IMLC is one solution to streamline licensing for providers. But managing the process from start to end when trying to grow and run a business often takes time, resources and is difficult,” says Merritt. “Medallion eliminates laborious tasks so everything is integrated, automated and accessible from a central platform.” 

One of Medallion’s clients in provider licensing, William Giandoni, co-founder of virtual dermatology care center, Skintap, tells Medallion, “Without Medallion, I can confidently say we would still be bogged down in figuring out each state's licensing requirements, communicating those requirements to our providers, and then following up with the various boards for status updates on the licenses.”

In Medallion, it’s simple to: 

  • Expand your patient coverage

  • Get more licenses at your fingertips

  • Monitor license renewals and expirations

  • Keep providers on track with continuing education requirements

See how Medallion can help you use the licensing solutions that work best for your organization. Talk to our licensing experts and try it for yourself.