How to Avoid Telemedicine Liability Risks
Telemedicine is an exciting new facet of the world of health care. In an increasingly virtual culture, it only makes sense that patients should have a way to receive medical attention without leaving the house. It has benefits for the patient and the doctor, but it does come with risks as well.
As the practice of telecommunicating with patients becomes more and more common, doctors and other healthcare professionals are expressing concern over the issue of liability in these interactions.
Doctors worry that they won’t be able to provide adequate diagnosis without an in-person appointment and this will cause them to lead the patient down the wrong path, ultimately ending in a malpractice lawsuit. Thus far, this has not shown to be the case. But in order to ease yourself, your colleagues, or your employees into this new phase of medical technology, remember these ways to avoid telemedicine liability risks.
Of course, any party involved in any sort of health care transaction should be fully insured. But, as the telemedicine industry grows, so does the telemedicine insurance industry.
There are now multiple companies sporting insurance policies specifically for telemedicine transactions. The American Telemedicine Association even announced a partnership with HUB Healthcare Solutions, endorsing their telemedicine coverage.
As the industry is growing, new rules and regulations are being put into place and enforced, and what you could be liable for is constantly changing. A policy specifically dedicated to cover you in telemedicine will be necessary to give these issues the adequate attention they need.
Make sure to have telemedicine liability insurance before investing resources into telemedicine.
Focus on Security
While malpractice cases are a major concern for any medical institution, in the case of telemedicine there are other liability concerns as well.
When the entirety of a patient’s relationship with a doctor is virtual, a large amount of their private information will be stored online. If any private medical information is leaked, your institution could be liable.
Security on the internet is great if you dedicate resources to it. But if it goes ignored, your information, patient data, and your institution, could be vulnerable.
When telecommunicating with a patient, they should be treated the same as a patient who comes into an office. The patient should not be rushed or dismissed just because they are on the other side of a computer screen.
Patients looking to telecommunicate may often have more casual medical issues. Given that they didn’t feel the need to see a doctor in person, they may not feel like they’re in a state of emergency. No matter how simple the problem may be, patients should have a thorough and meaningful interaction with their doctor. If they feel as though their doctor was invested in their well-being, they will be less likely to take legal action if a mistake is made.
Stay on the Forefront of Technology
Telemedicine is still a relatively new practice within the context of the health care industry, and the technology still has a long way to go. The equipment necessary can be a large investment, but the technology will evolve incredibly quickly as well.
As the available tech improves, your institution will need to keep up with it in order to best serve your patients.
Every institution should determine their own level of comfort with the telemedicine process. Consider putting in place guidelines about the types of medical attention available via telecommunication. Certain types of medical issues will be a better fit than some others for the medium of telemedicine.
Some medical institutions choose to only utilize telemedicine for doctor-patient relationships that are already established. This way telecommunications could be mainly used to boost already established relationships instead of trying to forge new ones, which could cause complications.
Just because telemedicine is being utilized doesn’t mean it has to be used in every case. Even if a patient feels telemedicine would be best for them, make sure to properly evaluate their case in order to give them the best treatment possible.
Overall, telemedicine is an exciting future for the ever-evolving world of health care. While there are a number of risks to consider, they don’t outweigh the many benefits, and can be easily avoided through care, consideration, and insurance.