The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has been felt everywhere, including the world of malpractice insurance coverage. As the world of healthcare changes, physicians will need to add telehealth services to their standard operations. This comes with an increased risk of malpractice related claims. The first step to understanding your risk is to clarify, what exactly is telehealth?
Telehealth provides patients with a way to seek care from the comfort of their own home. Telehealth uses telecommunications to connect a patient and a provider. Telehealth can include:
- Talking to your doctor live over the phone or through video chat.
- Using chat to send messages, emails, or secure medical files
- Use remote patient monitoring so your doctor can check on you at home. For example, you might use a device to gather ECG or other vitals to help your doctor stay informed on your progress.
In addition to understanding what telehealth is and how it will be used to provide care to patients, physicians must educate themselves on the rules and regulations surrounding the use of telehealth to treat patients. For example, some states require a physician to see a patient in person before providing any kind of telehealth related care. State laws can also vary on who is responsible for obtaining patient consent, the originating site provider or the treating physician. Always educate yourself of the local and state laws surrounding the use of telehealth to provide care to patients.
Risks arise when physicians fail to educate themselves on the rules and regulations surrounding telehealth, but is it equally important to educate yourself on the proper use of telehealth to reduce your legal risk. Providing healthcare using telehealth doesn’t create new risks so much as it creates new opportunities to overlook proper procedures.
For example, consent forms and rules surrounding privacy of patients are two things that pose legal risk to your practice if overlooked. These are not new concepts but the unfamiliar delivery over telecommunication can lead to oversights. Most importantly, experts advise physicians to seek out training in delivering telemedicine services to ensure that they’re not only following the applicable rules, but also so they’re delivering the best possible care in this new setting.
Protect your practice against the increased risk of claims brought against you due to telehealth in these unprecedented times. Don’t let this changing world overwhelm you, Contact us at CARE today to let us help you find a policy that will cover your needs.