Telemedicine and e-Health

What is telemedicine? The Basics

Telemedicine is a growing area globally. It is taking prominence in the US as a resource to reduce the amount of hospital visits and cut down on medical bills. Not only that it is becoming a leader in UK medicine. Telemedicine will play an instrumental role in not only reducing the pressures on the NHS. But it will also drag the NHS forward and make it have a lasting future. The NHS is investing in Telemedicine.

Telemedicine isn’t just for the smaller medical requirements it can vary. Anything from physiotherapy guides to long term care that can alert a physician when symptoms change. From Radiology to dermatology and most things in between. Technology has a huge role that it can and will play in the future of medicine.

Telemedicine has huge potential to improve the care that people are given and also enable more accurate diagnosis. As databases of cases and images can be curated by which algorithms can crawl in order to determine the best course of action based on the outcomes of previous cases similar to the one it is faced with. Image recognition technology will be able to compare previous cases and identify a diagnosis.

Digitisation of care has endless possibilities. Doctors will have the ability to prescribe medication and see patients without patients having to leave the office, this also means that patients unable to leave the house or make appointments can still receive care. It will allow for leaps in the quality of care given to patients should the technology be developed sufficiently. Doctors will still have the responsibility to ensure that the care given is empathetic and dignified. For example, there was a recent case whereby a patient was told that they didn’t have long left to live but the news was delivered via a video call and this has been deemed unethical and unempathetic. This is something that Telemedicine will have to improve upon to get to the level it needs to be in order to efficiently collaborate with the NHS.

Telemedicine is not perfect and has a long way to go to achieve a level of real dependence for the NHS and medical facilities across the globe. It is down to businesses to continue to innovate and down to us to help protect their businesses and most importantly the innovations that will propel the medical industry forward.

The risks.

What exposures do telemedicine businesses need covering?

  • Firstly, professional indemnity covering liability arising out of any failure of the technology to perform which must include bodily or mental injury. under this we would expect to see medical malpractice cover that will cover the acts of a medical professional working on for the business. This will cover the human element of the process.
  • Secondly, data loss either as a result of the failure of the technology or any external issue including hacking, ransomware etc. This will be commonly known as cyber insurance, this will also include cover for any hardware required to keep the business running. It will typically include a business interruption element which will cover the cost of reparations should the technology fail or break. Cyber insurance may also cover the cost and provide access to professionals that can help remedy a situation in the event of ransomware or a hack.
  • Thirdly, public and products liability covering the risk of  process. This is the more generic cover that every business will have. This covers the risk to members of the public from a negligent act. i.e leaving something on the floor that a member of the public trips over. This also covers harm done by the product itself, predominantly used for wearable technology, and self monitoring devices.
  • Finally, there is the risk of tech and media liability, this is for infringements on somebody else’s technology. The cover is also used should an error in the technology result in the bodily injury of a person. This is also true should the technology be misrepresented or make false claims resulting in the injury of a patient.

There have been cases whereby a tele-dermatology company have failed to diagnose skin conditions due to poor image quality and as a result bodily injury has occurred which they were found liable for.

Telemedicine can also have potentially fatal risks in certain cases. Telemedicine can be used to link internal monitoring devices and record their data. However, should a device be hacked into it could have the data manipulated or even potentially the monitor turned off. This would then mean that a patient’s deterioration goes unnoticed resulting in improper care and potentially proving fatal. The best example for this could be a defibrillating heart monitor that gets hacked meaning that when a patient has a heart attack the defibrillator doesn’t activate.

As a result, there are huge cyber exposures with a lot of Telemedicine. This is something that you need to consider when looking for insurance. It is important that we understand your risks so we can aim to safeguard your business from them.

There is an exposure for the use of Telemedicine for physiotherapy. Without clear instruction a patient may end up injuring themselves slowing down their recovery. It will be important that the use of Telemedicine is made as simple as possible throughout every stage so as the patient can use it safely and efficiently as well as minimising the risk of the business. It may become a case of a patient having one out of every three to four sessions to ensure that the exercises are being done correctly. This is currently the case with some patients that administer some of their own medication. This helps minimise the strain on an organisation to see the patient but also ensures that they are going to get the best care.

Where we come in?

Ultimately, there are several risk exposures with Telemedicine, but we can cover them all. We have extensive expertise in the various fields that will come together to enable us to protect a business operating a Telemedicine product. Our core business is medical malpractice which is the professional indemnity cover required for medical professionals. We also have the ability to identify the need cyber insurance as well as the resources to obtain cover. Alongside this we can cover the public liability element to protect the consumer using the telemedicine service.

Not only is there a risk to the business, but there will be a requirement of the business to have adequate insurance in place before the product would be considered for use by the NHS.

For any questions, please Contact Us.