Ask NASW-IL: Can I see my client via telehealth if they travel outside of Illinois?
As "reopening" continues and social workers and their clients become more mobile in their locations, social workers are ethically and legally responsible for understanding if they can continue utilizing telehealth services if they or their client leaves the state. While there is no easy answer for any situation, the NASW-Illinois Chapter has created a Telehealth Practice webpage for commonly asked questions pertaining to telehealth (excerpt shown below). It also provides a flowchart graphic to help practitioners better understand when telehealth services can continue should they or their client leave the state.
Excerpt from our Telehealth page:
I’M A SOCIAL WORKER LICENSED IN ILLINOIS. Can I use telehealth services to see my client if…
…my client is in Illinois?
Yes. A health care professional may engage in the practice of telehealth services in Illinois to the extent of their scope of practice as established in his or her respective licensing Act consistent with the standards of care for in-person services.
…I’m (temporarily) going to another state but my client remains in Illinois?
According to the Illinois Department of Financial & Professional Regulation (IDFPR), social workers who are licensed in Illinois may continue to see clients via telehealth if they, the practitioner, are visiting a different state. For further questions on what is and isn’t allowed by IDFPR with regards to practice, contact IDFPR.
…I’m in Illinois but my client is (temporarily) going to another state where I am not also licensed?
Depends. Each state is different regarding whether or not they allow social workers licensed in another state to see their clients who are physically in a state the social worker is not licensed in. Some states allow limited telehealth services to be provided, others require temporary licenses with the state. You must reach out to the licensing board of the state your client is visiting to determine that state’s requirements.
The Association of Social Work Boards (ASWB) has created a helpful COVID-19 resource page that provides a list of emergency provisions regarding social work licensure related to the COVID-19 public health emergency. While we cannot verify that all of the information on this page is correct, they do provide a helpful list of regulatory provisions by state. To access the page, go to: https://www.aswb.org/covid-19/. NOTE: This page is updated as they become aware of changes. If a state is not listed, it means there are no provisions specific to the public health emergency at this time. As with guides, we still recommend you double check with the licensing board of the state your client is visiting.
…my client remains in Illinois but I move to another state while retaining my Illinois license?
Yes. Illinois requires you to be licensed in the state where your client is physically located but it does not require you to be physically present in the state of Illinois to practice telehealth.
Ethical Out-of-State Telehealth Practice: National and International Considerations by Ruth Lipschutz, LCSW, ACSW
SOCIAL WORK LICENSURE COMPACT
Recent news within the profession have been around creating of an interstate compact which will enable social workers to service clients in every state that joins the compact rather than going through the licensure process in every state where they want to practice. Conversations around the compact increased this summer when the Council of State Governments (CSG) released an initial draft of the compact language for review and public comment.
Even if approved this year, it could be several more years until the compact may take affect. Until then, you will still need to follow the steps listed above to find out if you are able to practice telehealth if your client goes to a different state.
MORE TELEHEALTH RESOURCES
For more info and resources telehealth practice, go to: https://www.naswil.org/telehealth.
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