Telehealth Organizations Face Unique Risks

By Christian Amabile, Account Executive

Telehealth Organizations Face Unique Risks

We live in an age of convenience, and people are leaving their homes less than ever. If someone has the ability to get something done more efficiently through technology, they will. Telehealth has been a rapidly growing industry over the past few years, a trend accelerated exponentially by the COVID-19 outbreak. The consulting firm Mckinsey has found that 76% of health care consumers are now interested in using telehealth, and up to $250 Billion of current US health care spend could potentially be virtualized. New telehealth companies are constantly emerging and existing practices are evolving in response to this trend, but many organizations do not have the correct insurance coverages in place for these unique exposures.

Due to telehealth’s current unforeseen explosion in use and a number of risks it presents that differ from traditional methods, many insurance brokers and carriers may not have a firm grasp on how to properly cover telehealth. A lack of understanding, or gaps in policy forms, could leave organizations without coverage in the face of claims. Obviously, organizations practicing telehealth should follow all HIPPA and state regulations, but things are complicated with the introduction of new technologies and the transfer of personal data . In addition, when patients are not physically in front of the parties administering care, a whole new set of potential issues arise .

Expanded data transfer and the use of new technology makes cyber security paramount in the practice of telehealth. Most companies offering telehealth services are mindful of this, and are vigilant about having the correct protocols in place to minimize the risks. With that said, there is no system in existence that is not potentially hackable. This goes for all software and medical devices used in delivering care. A cyber-attack could be something as simple as a system hack to steal patient data. On the other end of the spectrum, there is the vulnerability of remote care devices to ransomware attacks. Hackers could seize control of devices used to keep patients alive, and demand payments while threatening the life of those patients.

Misdiagnosis is the largest cause of medical malpractice claims. Coverys, a medical malpractice insurance carrier, found in a study that 46% of their claims and 68% of their indemnity paid was related to diagnosis. Without having patients directly in front of those administering care, telehealth can make it difficult for practionersto diagnosis properly . Knowing the limits of telehealth is the best form of risk reduction, but organizations must also make sure that they are properly insured.

Risk Strategies has a wealth of telehealth knowledge, including of insurance solutions specifically tailored to telehealth risks. For example, one solution combines medical malpractice and cyber coverages on a full limit basis. This can be very important if a claim occurs where it is not clear if the claim is due to malpractice or cyber issues. In this scenario, with two different policies and two different carriers, each carrier could decline coverage and point fingers at each other as being responsible for payment. The combined coverage approach eliminates this issue.

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