Preparing Your Practice for Telemedicine Care

The COVID-19 pandemic has healthcare providers evolving their practices daily as protocols for diagnosing and treating the virus change so quickly. Telemedicine has become an effective means of triaging patients while limiting exposure for both patients and office staff.

The AMA(1) has issued a guide to quickly establishing a telemedicine offering at your practice. Some suggestions include:

  • Establish an implementation team
  • Review malpractice insurance policy
  • Evaluate payment guidelines   
  • Select third-party vendor to provide services
  • Ensure HIPAA compliance
  • Train clinicians, care team members, and schedulers
  • Set up telehealth space at your location
  • Determine documentation protocols
  • Ensure you receive advanced consent from patients for telemedicine interactions
  • Conduct proactive patient outreach to spread awareness of telemedicine offering

The Department of Health and Human Services(2) has issued guidance to health care providers who are new to providing telemedicine options to their patients. They have confirmed that covered health care providers will not be subject to penalties for violations of the HIPAA Privacy, Security, and Breach Notification Rules that occur during the good faith provision of telehealth during the COVID-19 nationwide public health emergency. This notification does not affect the application of the HIPAA Rules to other areas of health care outside of telehealth during the emergency.

CMS (Center for Medicare & Medicaid Services)(3) has issued guidelines for Medicare and Medicaid patients. For private insurers, several healthcare companies have announced that they will make telehealth more widely available. Some are offering telehealth services for free for a certain period of time.

Contact us today. We can review your professional liability policy to ensure your coverage aligns with current telemedicine mandates and guidelines.

Please Note: Any communications relating to the impact of coronavirus/COVID-19 on insurance policies or healthcare protocols are not legal opinions, warranties, or guarantees, and should not be relied upon as such. We do not render legal advice or make coverage decisions regarding COVID-19 claims. Given the ongoing and constantly evolving pandemic situation, this communication does not necessarily reflect the latest information regarding recently enacted, pending, or proposed legislation or mandates that could override, alter, or affect existing insurance coverage. Please consult with an attorney for specific legal advice in this regard.

Footnotes

Important CDC Resources During the Pandemic

The CDC urges healthcare facilities and provider practices to assess their protocols to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. The CDC has provided the following resources to aid healthcare providers in these efforts:

Also be sure to keep the CDC Emergency Operations Center number readily available for emergency or urgent patient care assistance (not intended for use by general public): 770-488-7100. It is staffed 24 hours a day, seven days a week.

Contact us today. We can review your professional liability policy to ensure your coverage aligns with current mandates and guidelines.

Please Note: Any communications relating to the impact of coronavirus/COVID-19 on insurance policies or healthcare protocols are not legal opinions, warranties, or guarantees, and should not be relied upon as such. We do not render legal advice or make coverage decisions regarding COVID-19 claims. Given the ongoing and constantly evolving pandemic situation, this communication does not necessarily reflect the latest information regarding recently enacted, pending, or proposed legislation or mandates that could override, alter, or affect existing insurance coverage. Please consult with an attorney for specific legal advice in this regard.

Are You Prepared if the Coronavirus Knocks on Your Door?

With the coronavirus making landfall in the continental United States, is your staff prepared to handle potentially infected patients? All medical offices, no matter their size or specialty, should have an infection control and emergency preparedness plan in place. A solid plan, coupled with thorough screenings, can aid the healthcare community as a whole better manage this outbreak(1).

If you and your staff are not already familiar with the CDC’s educational site, now is the time to circulate that information, which can be found here: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html(2). While a global epidemic can seem frightening, especially to healthcare workers, education is one of the best weapons you can provide your staff. Media reports, while helpful in disseminating information quickly, can also cause undue stress and panic among uninformed populations.

Proper resource management is essential for a healthcare practice during potential pandemics. For example, non-healthcare venues affect absenteeism at your practice. Consider how schools, childcare centers, and other business closings affect your staff. Be sure to work these contingencies into your emergency preparedness plan. Also give thought to how other local infrastructure, such as law enforcement and the transportation industry, affect your practice.

The World Health Organization (WHO) has released an online training program that may prove beneficial to you and your staff. It can be accessed via this link: https://openwho.org/courses/introduction-to-ncov(3). The course, which was published on January 26, 2020, has already seen a large volume of registered users – almost 3,000 daily. It is free to enroll, and is currently being produced in many languages across the globe. The World Health Organization believes that dispersing this type of knowledge into the hands of first responders (such as you and your staff) is paramount in controlling the outbreak of the coronavirus.

Contact us today. We can provide additional resources and training ideas to create an emergency preparedness plan that your practice can put into place immediately.

Footnotes

Are you familiar with the SUPPORT Act and EKRA?

Not one to shy away from lengthy acronyms, Congress passed the SUPPORT Act (Substance Use Prevention that Promotes Opioid Recovery and Treatment) a couple of years ago. What is it? The Act is an attempt to manage various issues related to the opioid crisis through a series of more than 70 separate bills.(1)

Some important highlights of paramount importance to providers include:

  • States must establish a qualifying prescription drug monitoring program (PDMP) and require healthcare providers to check the PDMP for an enrollee’s prescription drug history before prescribing controlled substances. There has been a great deal of discussion about the ability for physicians and pharmacies to track usage in other states as well.
  • The bill increases the maximum number of patients that healthcare providers may initially treat with a medication-assisted treatment plan
  • The Eliminating Kickbacks in Recovery Act (EKRA) is one of the SUPPORT Act’s related bills. This tightens up the laws that make it a federal crime to receive/offer illegal remunerations for patient referrals to recovery homes, clinical treatment facilities, and laboratories.(2)

As with any legislation, there are still issues regarding the applicability of the Act to unrelated arrangements in the healthcare industry that could otherwise be structured to comply with existing federal law.(3) Additionally, EKRA has been criticized as being overly broad and ambiguous.(4)

New laws usually result in new issues for healthcare providers. The more time providers spend trying to figure out what the government wants them to do, the less time they have to dedicate to patient care. What can you do to protect yourself from the potential liability surrounding these new laws? Education is of vital importance, as is ensuring that your risk mitigation plan addresses these issues.

Contact us today. We can help you make sense of these and other laws that affect your risk management plan.

Footnotes

Enrollment Now Open for New High-Limits Disability Insurance Program

This coverage, available via CARE’s partnership with MGIS, is a great benefit for our members. It offers you choices and pricing otherwise not available outside of our association. For more than 50 years, Medical Group Insurance Services (MGIS) has specialized in creating a continuum of coverage that addresses the unique income replacement needs of physicians and dentists. Working with world-renowned underwriters at Lloyd’s of London, we have added a layer of coverage for high-earning physicians and dentists. The MGIS incomeprotect® | HIGH LIMITS maintains the integrated continuum of key provisions crucial to protecting high-income earners.

Enrollment in this exclusive disability insurance program ends March 2, 2020. Take advantage of this offer before open enrollment ends. If you do not enroll during the 30-day enrollment period, you’ll have to go through the normal application process, including answering detailed health and hazardous avocation questions, and may even be turned down for coverage.

The online enrollment process is simple, totally confidential, and walks you through each of the available options. Lump-sum options include (all with a one-year elimination period):

  • $250,000
  • $500,000
  • $1,000,000

This program has other advantages that you won’t see on other offerings outside of this exclusive program:

  • Easy Enrollment. Simplified Issue (only three questions about missed work and recent medical needs; no exams required).
  • Best Definition of Disability in the Industry. You are considered disabled if you cannot perform the actual procedures you have performed over the past 12 months. This is crucial to ensuring you qualify for benefits.

If you have questions about the enrollment process or any of the options, please send an email to highlimitsfaq@mgis.com and an MGIS product specialist will be happy to assist you.

(To make enrollment even simpler, please have your NPI or SSN and total earned income from all practice settings available when you enroll.)

Contact us today to learn more about how MGIS offerings can complement your current liability coverage with CARE, LLC.

Got an extra $1.4 million to spend? You might need it if you don’t have cybersecurity liability coverage.

Did you know that it costs roughly $1.4 million to recover from a cyberattack? The cost of lost productivity, damage to your practice’s reputation, and service disruption, among other expenses, add up quickly(1). Responding to cyber incidents can be time-consuming too, depleting resources and taking your focus away from patient care.

Data transmission permeates the healthcare industry. While we assume the obvious data breach potential occurs when transmitting PHI (protected health information) data from one provider to another (physician to hospital, for example), even seemingly innocuous DME (durable medical equipment), such as insulin pumps, pacemakers, and infusion pumps, carry the threat of data theft and exposure(2).

CARE Professional Liability Association offers liability policies to protect policyholders against evolving cyber threats. A cyber liability policy covers many aspects of potential risk(3):

  • Privacy or security breach mitigation, including the cost to provide 12 months of credit monitoring and identity restoration services to affected individuals
  • Data restoration, recovery, or replacement costs when data is damaged, corrupted, or destroyed as a direct result of a network security incident
  • Income loss and business interruption expenses
  • Ransom payments to persons reasonably believed to be responsible for a cyber extortion threat
  • Brand loss: loss of net profit incurred as a direct result of a breach notification or adverse media report following a privacy/security breach
  • Claims alleging negligent acts or errors in electronic or print media that results in infringement of copyright, trademark, domain name, or plagiarism
  • Claims alleging liability for failure to prevent or hinder a privacy/security breach
  • Investigations and other civil proceedings brought by government agencies for the enforcement of privacy regulations
  • Written demands for assessments made by acquiring banks or credit card associations due to non-compliance

Contact us today. We are serious about data security and patient privacy. We can help you mitigate cyber security risks before they affect your practice.

Footnotes

  1. https://healthitsecurity.com/features/what-is-cyber-insurance-for-healthcare-organizations
  2. https://www.healthdatamanagement.com/opinion/how-cyber-risk-is-affecting-medical-professional-liability
  3. https://gallery.mailchimp.com/2e65dcb86f6030c0d5aba0903/files/5b57d519-55f8-4271-8ba6-215aa7ae0d6d/CARE_RRG_Agent_Cyber_Flyer_10.17.pdf

Professional Partnership Announcement: CARE and MGIS

We are excited to announce our newly formed professional partnership with Medical Group Insurance Services (MGIS). For more than 50 years, MGIS has specialized in creating a continuum of coverage that addresses the unique income replacement needs of physicians and dentists. Working with world-renowned underwriters at Lloyd’s of London, MGIS has added a layer of coverage for high-earning physicians and dentists: MGIS incomeprotect® | HIGH LIMITS maintains the integration of key provisions crucial to protecting high-income earners.

This new disability insurance program is available exclusively to our members.  As a physician’s income grows, finding disability insurance that adequately replaces income when a disability occurs is difficult and expensive. This insurance program solves this problem with features and pricing exclusive to association members. The coverage is provided by the prestigious Underwriters at Lloyd’s of London, through their U.S. partner, MGIS, who has delivered income protection solutions to doctors nationally for more than 50 years.

You can choose from these benefit options:

Lump Sum

  • $250,000 with a one-year elimination period
  • $500,000 with a one-year elimination period
  • $1,000,000 with a one-year elimination period

This program has other advantages that you won’t see on other offerings outside of this exclusive program:

  • Easy Enrollment. Simplified Issue (only three questions about missed work and recent medical needs; no exams are required).
  • Best Definition of Disability in the Industry. You are considered disabled if you cannot perform the actual procedures you have performed over the past 12 months. This is crucial to ensuring you qualify for benefits.

You may pre-enroll by clicking here for easy electronic enrollment. To make enrollment even simpler, you’ll want to have the following available when you log in:

  • Your NPI or SSN
  • Total earned income from all practice settings

Please send questions to HighLimitsFAQ@MGIS.com.

Contact us today if you have questions about this exciting new service offering with our latest professional partner.

Tools and Resources to Mitigate Provider Burnout

Any career that involves connecting with other people is prone to professional burnout. It is very difficult to maintain a sense of self while caring for and supporting others. Increased administrative and productivity-based demands placed on physicians has led to worsening effects of physician burnout.

Increases in burnout rates can lead to negative impacts on both healthcare organizations and providers, including(1):

  • Emotional exhaustion
  • Depersonalization/distancing behaviors
  • Feelings of ineffectiveness
  • Lack of personal accomplishment
  • Feeling overextended
  • Unwilling to sympathize/empathize with patients
  • Unable to meet workplace demands
  • Diminished quality of care
  • Poor patient satisfaction
  • Increased medical errors and patient safety events
  • Decreased retention/increased turnover
  • Substance abuse/suicide

Any one of these elements can expose organizations to potential medical liability claims. Whether the issue is a serious medical mistake, or simply a perceived wrongdoing by a patient, the risk is inherent in any medical practice. While it may seem unreasonable to completely eliminate career burnout, there are tools to help both providers and support personnel help mitigate the risk associated with these issues. With limited investment, organizations can make effective and impactful changes to address and prevent burnout.

One of our professional partners, SE Healthcare, developed a video series(2) about physician burnout. The videos take a look at the range of negative impacts to the healthcare industry for both providers and patients (including financial, clinical, resources, errors, etc.). More importantly, each video provides suggestions on negating the effects of physician burnout at your practice.

SE Healthcare also offers a comprehensive Physician Burnout Prevention Program(4). This program uses a three-pronged approach to address and minimize physician burnout within your organization. The three pillars of the program include:

  • The Assessment: A confidential, short survey focused on identifying causes of burnout; uncovers where your physicians are on the burnout continuum; identifies top causes of burnout
  • The Dashboard: Provides actionable data to address burnout; includes valuable organizational and work-unit-level data available to leadership; offers individualized reports for physicians
  • The Enrichment Center: Curriculum-based learning module; features a complete library of exclusive materials; also includes a video training curriculum

A healthcare provider typically operates in a team-based model, working closely with other clinical office staff. However, this still puts physicians in a silo of sorts, in that daily interaction with other physicians is minimal. This isolation, coupled with the fact that vocational burnout still carries a negative stigma, prevents those who could see the signs and symptoms be comfortable enough to have conversations about workplace stressors(3). The program provides individual training and education on recognition and management of burnout, both within yourself and your colleagues. The program even offers tips on how to approach a colleague in distress.

Uncertainty about whether anything can be done to impact burnout often creates a barrier to action. Despite this trend, there are a number of key actions organizations can take to reduce burnout. SE Healthcare’s program provides leadership with a communication tool to listen to physicians and help uncover underlying issues. The program equips providers with the tools and skills to relieve stress and reduce levels of burnout, thus leading to significant benefits for both the organization and the provider.

Contact us today. We can help you uncover your risk potential based on your current level of organizational burnout. We can also help you easily and immediately implement the Physician Burnout Prevention Program in your practice.

Footnotes

  1. https://www.apaservices.org/practice/update/2018/01-25/mental-health-providers
  2. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RsN7vShw7UA&list=PLcE1V4co1oBYmhL4nIrHFkOEVUXL41CN3
  3. https://www.sehealthcarequalityconsulting.com/2019/12/19/using-our-eyes-and-ears-how-leaders-can-listen-to-physicians-to-help-detect-burnout/
  4. https://www.sehealthcarequalityconsulting.com/physician-burnout-prevention-program/

Another Strong Partnership Development: CARE and HealthShare

We are excited to announce our partnership with HealthShare, an association with more than 40 years of experience in the healthcare industry. They provide a proven, non-insurance solution to the high cost of paying for healthcare.

HealthShare is managed by SHMI, Inc., which assists its clients in improving healthcare services and reducing costs. Their mission is to facilitate access to quality healthcare at affordable prices. The HealthShare model is centered on a commitment to healthy living and a cost-sharing model of medical care. Learn more about this model here.

The partnership between CARE and HealthShare serves to benefit our clients, agents, and brokers, as it provides a workable solution for you, your peers, and even your clients if they are looking for affordable, high-quality alternatives to traditional health insurance options.

To see more details about how this program works, please click here. Or complete this form to be contacted by a HealthShare professional.

Additionally, you can Contact us at CARE today. We can show you how this new partnership offers benefits to you and your clients.

Opioids and Liability: Understand Your Risk

Opioids and Liability: Understand Your Risk

Opioid-related overdose deaths have more than tripled in the past 20 years. Even more alarming, the rate of correlated emergency room visits has doubled in just the last five years(1). Many providers are unaware or unsure of their liability when it comes to prescribing opioid painkillers. And even when the limit of your liability seems clear, there is no guarantee that your patients understand that and it definitely doesn’t prevent them from filing a malpractice claim.

Our partner, OmniSure, has a host of resources on their website(2) to help you combat potential liability issues. Some suggestions include:

  • PMP (prescription monitoring program): Participate in your state’s PMP to increase the effectiveness of information sharing among providers, pharmacies, and patients
  • Provider education: Educate yourself and your staff on regulations, drug interactions, and protocols for handling adverse events
  • Evidence-based treatment guidelines: Treatment solutions are constantly evolving, so stay updated on new ideas, statistics, and the latest recommendations
  • Fight the addiction stigma: Ensure that your practice understands the importance of making patients feel comfortable discussing any destructive opioid-related patterns they may develop
  • Patient education: help patients understand the signs and symptoms of addiction, as well as promote the help that is available to them

All of these tools can both improve patient safety and reduce potentially litigious situations for your practice.

Opioids are a necessary component of some patient treatment plans. Discussing all options with your patient is a necessary first step. It’s also important to consider alternative prescribing options, such as writing dispensing orders for fewer days and at lower dosages(3). This puts a system of checks and balances in place to more closely monitor patient behavior and in turn reveals potential addictive behavior earlier.

As a CARE LLC policyholder, you can receive discounted services from OmniSure, which includes access to the RiskFit® Helpline(4). This service provides guidance and assistance when you have questions about patient care, such as opioid prescribing. Contact us at CARE today. We can show you the many benefits of being of CARE client.

Footnotes

  1. https://omnisure.wistia.com/medias/taws05pvwz
  2. https://www.riskfitness.com/opioid-liability-resources?cid=85fab4ed-3196-4e75-8828-a8ba9e4067ad
  3. https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/data/prescribing/prescribing-practices.html
  4. https://www.riskfitness.com/