It goes without saying the COVID-19 pandemic disrupted traditional healthcare delivery and highlighted the importance and usefulness of telemedicine to remain engaged with patients and continue delivering care. ProAssurance’s Telemedicine & Professional Liability series below was developed prior to the pandemic; however, the risk management strategies and best practices presented remain relevant.
Our Risk Resource department continues to update their Practicing During a Pandemic Guide, offering a variety of tools & resources to help you navigate these challenging times. The Guide includes a dedicated telemedicine drawer, with specific risk management resources and information related to telemedicine use. Visit ProAssurance.com/COVID-19-Risk/ to view the Guide.
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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Telemedicine devices are often traditional medical devices that have been given connectivity or properties so they may interact with other devices. Defining telemed products can be difficult because the FDA does not recognize a discrete category of products that are considered telemedicine products.
Sara Dyson discusses some of the difficulties which may arise when designing a device for telemedicine use—particularly in the home setting.
Patrick O’Doherty, Vice President and Managing Director, Custom Physicians
Patrick O’Doherty has 30+ years of experience in the insurance industry focused mainly on professional liability insurance. Currently he manages the Custom Physicians Division for ProAssurance. His responsibilities include development of innovative new products and creative risk transfer mechanisms for large groups of physicians on a national basis. Custom Physicians Division also handles non standard or difficult to place physicians on an individual basis, telemedicine physicians, and other physician based accounts that may not fit into the “standard” underwriting methodology. 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 presented on various loss prevention and risk management topics for physicians, practice administration professionals, and healthcare organizations; advised ProAssurance insureds on the ProAssurance Risk Advisor line; and conducted some closed professional liability claims and statistical analyses. He also participated in the Department’s regulatory compliance program.
Sara E. Dyson, Esq., Assistant Vice President, Risk Management - Medmarc
As an Assistant Vice President of Risk Management for Medmarc Insurance Group, Sara Dyson’s primary responsibility is to assist companies with controlling products liability risks, losses, and associated costs. She regularly performs evaluations of medtech and pharmaceutical products and onsite evaluations of manufacturing operations to identify products liability risks. She also consults with life sciences companies to develop products liability risk management strategies. Sara publishes articles on products liability risk management in industry magazines and presents on the topic before industry groups and trade associations.