According to the American Telemedicine Association, in 2017, more than 20 million Americans accessed remote healthcare services. Many of these individuals are living in isolated or rural areas of the country and therefore may not have access to a healthcare facility. But the demographic that is currently benefiting the most from telemedicine is the growing number of elderly Americans. Senior living facilities nationwide are utilizing patient videoconferencing, enabling healthcare professionals to diagnose ailments and prescribe treatments remotely. While telemedicine has many advantages – speed, efficiency and broader patient outreach – these advantages are creating new challenges within the healthcare industry.
Delivering telehealth care services creates new liability exposures for medical professionals. Regulations can vary by state with regard to informed consent, standard of care, credentialing of providers, and remote prescription practices. Professional liability policies historically responded to allegations of medical malpractice by a healthcare provider in a traditional setting such as a physician’s offices or hospital setting. However, healthcare providers now face potential liability for risk inherent in the telemedicine technology itself when for example medical treatment is afforded remotely through a monitor/internet connection.
…the demographic that is currently benefiting the most from telemedicine is the growing number of elderly Americans.
Licensing is also an area of potential exposure for the healthcare provider if they do not conform with state law. Medical professionals must be properly licensed in the states where they provide care, but the remote nature of a telemedicine platform allows the patient’s location to be anywhere in the country.
Lastly, the risk of privacy breaches and illegal access to personally identifiable information via the telehealth platforms present areas of increased focus for healthcare professionals and their professional liability and cyber carriers.
As telemedicine becomes more prevalent, there is not one discipline with a sufficient perspective to solve emerging challenges effectively. If you’d like to learn more about how these emerging trends may affect you and your organization, call us at 508-619-4545.
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