ProAssurance

Telemedicine includes interactive video, home monitoring devices, scanning and emailing photos, and a myriad of other ways physicians and patients can communicate without in-person interactions. The use of these medical technologies is rapidly expanding in a variety of medical specialties. But while telemedicine brings the benefits of increased real-time data and access to healthcare, it also brings new risks and legal considerations.

ProAssurance staff explores the practice of telemedicine from the underwriting, claims, and risk management perspective. View the entire video series below or on the ProAssurance YouTube channel.

Patrick O’Doherty, Vice President and Managing Director, E&S Division
Patrick O’Doherty has 30 years of experience in the insurance industry focused mainly on professional liability insurance. Currently he manages the Excess and Surplus Lines Division for the ProAssurance Companies. His responsibilities include development of innovative new products and creative risk transfer mechanisms. Prior to that, he was the Regional Vice President, Underwriting for the Southern Region of ProAssurance Companies.

Gina Harris, Regional Vice President, Claims
As a Regional Vice President of Claims for ProAssurance Corporation, specifically in the Western Region of the United States, Gina Harris has amassed years of multi-jurisdictional litigation experience in the management and supervision of high value cases. She excels at litigation management, team building, case analysis, and oversees ProAssurance’s defense counsel’s rigorous and personalized defense for insureds.

Aaron Hamming, Senior Risk Resource Advisor
As a Quality and Business Intelligence Analyst for the Risk Resource Department, Aaron Hamming presents on various loss prevention and risk management topics for physicians, practice administration professionals, and healthcare organizations; advises ProAssurance insureds on the ProAssurance Risk Advisor line; and conducts some closed professional liability claims and statistical analyses for the year. He also participates in the Department’s regulatory compliance program.

Overview

Telemedicine use is rapidly expanding and changing the way physicians practice medicine. In our video series, “Telemedicine & Professional Liability” ProAssurance staff members explore telemedicine liability risk from the underwriting, claims, and risk management perspective.

24/7 vs Scope of Duty

Principal policyholders know details about their insurance policy, but physicians under that policy may not know about potential coverage limitations. Patrick O’Doherty reminds physicians to review their policy before practicing telemedicine to avoid coverage gaps.

Coverage for Telemedicine Groups

Coverage for telemedicine groups needs to cover a large, diverse group of physicians with a variety of different needs. Patrick O’Doherty discusses the cost and defense benefits for telemedicine groups that provide physician coverage.

Venues, Torts, PCFs

Telemedicine patients are often in different locations than the treating physician. This may raise legal questions regarding whether the physician is practicing medicine in a state in which he or she may not be licensed. This may also impact what benefits, such as patient compensation funds, they may access. Patrick O’Doherty explains some common issues that arise when telemedicine doctors practice across state lines.

The Claims Coding Challenge

Should coding and billing for telemedicine claims be restricted to cases which are majority-driven by the use of telemedicine technology? Patrick O’Doherty discusses the challenges of coding telemedicine claims—and the difficulties this presents when gathering telemedicine data.

Metadata

Metadata helps track the time and user associated with each activity on an electronic device. This is an essential part of any electronic health record should a malpractice suit occur. Patrick O’Doherty explains the importance of properly consolidating and storing the metadata for a telemedicine practice.

Legal Considerations

Medical and technological developments in telemedicine are outpacing updates to the law—particularly when it comes to issues of geographic location and timeliness of the medical services delivered. Aaron Hamming outlines some common legal considerations telemedicine physicians must consider to protect their practice.

Guidelines of Practice

There are not yet formal, uniform standards for telemedicine practice, but several medical organizations have developed practice guidelines. Physicians may use these resources to determine the best methods for administering care. Gina Harris reviews three key items to consider when developing telemedicine rules for your practice.

What is Telemedicine?

The terms telemedicine, telehealth, and virtual medicine are often used interchangeably in articles. But while these terms are similar, they carry different meanings in the industry. Patrick O’Doherty explains these differences and the importance of using the correct vocabulary to define your practice.

Adopting Telemedicine

The ultimate goal of telemedicine, like any type of medical care, is to improve the patient’s health and well-being. As this field develops, physicians will need to communicate to determine how best to achieve this outcome. Gina Harris discusses measurements physicians can track to help determine best practices for telemedicine.

Risk Management Considerations

Telemedicine physicians will practice in different geographic locations, and with a variety of communication methods and devices. This creates a unique set of circumstances which much be addressed from a legal standpoint. Aaron Hamming discusses common risk management considerations physicians must remain aware of when practicing telemedicine.

Ethics in Telemedicine

A physician’s ethical obligations are consistent across their practice, but telemedicine creates unique circumstances which may impact how those ethics are applied. The physician must be able to make careful decisions that account for privacy, confidentiality, and continuity of care. Gina Harris describes the AMA’s ethical guidelines, and how physicians are working to establish ethical parameters to guide telemedicine practice.

Best Practices Guide

Telemedicine and Professional Liability Best Practice Guide

Download the Guide