Telemedicine use is expanding at an incredible rate, but with that rapid expansion comes some growing pains. More specifically, covering telemedicine from a medical malpractice perspective will require adherence to new standards; Underwriters need to assess how medical care is being administered, on top of what specialty that medical care falls under. Below are a few areas to consider as telemedicine becomes a more integral part of the medical field as a whole:
Information Medium Type
The form of digital communication that health professionals use to interact with their patients will directly influence how underwriters evaluate coverage. Since telemedicine techniques can range from sharing radiology results to providing full, intensive care, phone consultations may be appropriate for some specialties, while others will need video conferencing to adequately treat patients. In other words, the digital medium should be appropriate to the specialty being practiced.
State/National Coverage Differences
Since malpractice regulations vary from state to state, underwriters will need to take into account whether or not the doctor administering telemedicine is in a different province from the patient receiving the care. This includes a physician’s, or physician assistant’s, the ability to prescribe medication to patients in different states, as well as how medical records are handled. There are some states that heavily restrict the practicing of telemedicine, and a few disallow telemedicine altogether.
Administering care internationally can also become complicated, especially if a claim is filed from a country that does allow their citizens to bring a lawsuit in the U.S.
Telemedicine relies on the communication between patient and healthcare administrator, and part of this process includes the transfer of sensitive medical information. Because of this, underwriters will need to take into account the security parameters of the devices that both parties use. This includes hospital-owned equipment, as well as any personal devices, like smartphones, that physicians or patients may utilize.
Since telemedicine is a continuously evolving field, the standards and practices used to evaluate must also change with it to ensure fair and comprehensive malpractice coverage.