Online telemedicine is one of the most exciting and rapidly developing segments of the healthcare industry. According to the Washington Post, about 15 million Americans currently utilize telemedicine. Grand View Research, a market research and consulting firm located in San Francisco, forecasts a massive $113.1 billion market share by 2025.
Telemedicine refers to, as the American Telemedicine Association (ATA) puts it, “the remote delivery of health care services and clinical information using telecommunications technology.” Another term that you may hear is “telehealth,” which usually refers to the same thing, except that in some cases telehealth “does not always involve clinical care.”
Online Telemedicine is the Future
New technologies have become ubiquitous in healthcare. Companies like CareCoach offer “digital eldercare,” to connect caregivers remotely with elderly people who need constant monitoring but do not want to be put in a nursing home. Psychiatrists are now virtually treating trauma patients who might be alienated or intimidated by the thought of visiting a clinic, to provide psychotherapy via tablet. Allergists leverage telemedical technologies to dig deeper into the root of serious seasonal allergy problems, inspecting a patient’s home for possible dangers without having to leave the office.
Beyond the financial and logistical benefits to the consumer of healthcare, such care has helped reduce physicians’ workloads as well. In an industry where physicians are often overworked and patients crave better and cheaper care, telemedicine appears to be the logical future of healthcare. In a May article headlined “At ATA18, Telemedicine Moves From a Possibility to a Necessity,” editor of mHealthIntelligence Eric Wicklund writes, “For years, telehealth advocates have been touting the virtual visits as being just as good as the in-person visit. Now they’re saying telemedicine is better.”
Establishing Telemedical Law
The rapid development of the field of telemedicine presents a tricky problem for insurance companies. Because the field of telemedicine is changing as fast as the technology itself, states are still in the process of figuring out telemedical law. For instance, Iowa passed a new law just this year which determined that insurance companies are not to discriminate against virtual care and in-person care when providing coverage. Because the legal language is still transforming, so is the nature of coverage in various states. Some states still do not have laws established to regulate how insurance companies treat online telemedicine cases. In such circumstances, insurance companies are forced to treat these claims on a case-by-case basis.
Medical Malpractice Insurance for Online Telemedicine
For physicians who use telemedicine and are concerned with medical malpractice claims, the stakes are even higher. What happens if the courts treat online telemedicine the same way they treat in-person care in malpractice cases, but there isn’t sufficient language in the physician’s insurance policy to cover the claims? Because the technology and legal side of telemedicine is still being polished, insured physicians are at great risk of having insufficient coverage for virtual malpractice claims. Policies that were written 5 years ago may not have sufficient language to cover services that physicians are able to offer today. In this rapidly shifting landscape, it is important to let an insurance professional help you protect against malpractice claims in situations that would not have been imaginable just a few years ago. It just takes a few minutes – let eQuoteMD provide you a free quote today!