By: Karina Gonzalez
Healthcare practitioners are excited about the expansive geographic scope of practice in Telemedicine. A licensed Florida physician can provide services in other states provided the physician is also licensed in the state where the patient is receiving the services. There are no geographical limitations if the delivery platform of technology provides voice and vision and where necessary videos for the Telemedicine/Telehealth visit.
As more and more physicians practice and contract to provide Telemedicine visits, one of the legal challenges we are facing is how to draft a restrictive covenant. The traditional reasonableness standards used to evaluate non-compete agreements just do not apply. What are you trying to restrict when the physician lives in Florida but has telemedicine practice with patients 500 miles away?
Current law does not address restrictive covenants in healthcare practitioner contracts using telemedicine as a delivery platform. Are restrictive covenants even enforceable for a Telemedicine practice? What legitimate business interest can justify a restriction of 500 miles when the delivery of medical care to a rural patient is at stake? Benefits from a telemedicine transaction included improved healthcare access, continuity of care and decreased healthcare costs how do you balance that against an employer’s business interests?
To practice across state lines, physicians are required to be licensed in those specific states. Yet a non-compete agreement seeks to restrict the expansive nature of Telemedicine by trying to limit a provider’s reach. Enforcement of the traditional restrictions on geography, scope and activity require new set of fact-specific, well-defined guidelines that most of states will be able to use and which will not chill the advancement of Telemedicine.