The Rise and Risk of Telehealth in the Developing Pandemic

Telehealth has been used pre-COVID for many reasons. Healthcare providers have used virtual methods to provide support to astronauts in space, patients in rural areas, and even to collaborate with one another on difficult cases or surgeries. Now, technological advances have allowed healthcare professionals to continue providing services amidst an unprecedented time. Some researchers are predicting a sevenfold growth in telehealth usage by 2025.

COVID-19 has impacted the healthcare system in many ways, including this shift to telehealth. Whether practicing cardiology, dermatology or family medicine, telehealth has been and will be a vital tool to continuing to provide healthcare in the future. The use of virtual healthcare comes with a number of benefits including increased accessibility to healthcare for many and decreased risk to infectious diseases such as COVID-19, it does not come without liability risk. 

Some of these risks include: 

  1. Increased risk of misdiagnosis- Without physically seeing patients in an exam room, the risk for misdiagnosing patients increases.
  1. Limited access for some patients-  Low income households and Seniors are less likely to be able to access telemedicine. Half of U.S. seniors do not have internet access.
  1. Administrative risks- Providing healthcare in a virtual environment may lead to oversights but staff members still need to follow proper procedures such as confirming identity, inquiring about allergies and receiving the patient’s specific consent to receive treatment via telemedicine.

There are ways to incorporate telehealth and minimize risk. The COVID-19 pandemic has led to extreme changes in most fields, including healthcare. 

The key to healthcare in these uncertain times may be the use of telehealth but how do you minimize your risk? There are many steps that can be taken to minimize risk of misdiagnosis. 

  • Properly trained staff 
  • Educated patients
  • Document visits properly
  • Reduce risk of cybersecurity threats
  • Know your state’s laws surrounding online-only patients
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By staying educated and informed, you can minimize your risk of malpractice suits in the new age of telehealth. Contact us at CARE today. We can help you minimize your risk to telehealth related malpractice suits.

Footnotes

  1. https://images.discover.frost.com/Web/FrostSullivan/%7B348611ab-5dae-418e-8977-b6135cd0349e%7D_K488_Samples.pdf
  2. https://www.pewresearch.org/internet/2017/05/17/technology-use-among-seniors/
  3. https://www.thedoctors.com/articles/your-patient-is-logging-on-now–the-risks-and-benefits-of-telehealth-in-the-future-of-healthcare/?utm_source=pr&utm_medium=referral&utm_campaign=pr_external&utm_content=telehealth_whitepaper
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