Unlike conventional medical malpractice insurance, #telemedicine carries with it a host of accompanying exposures, that may ultimately give rise to a medical malpractice claim.
In this article, we explore steps that can be taken to mitigate and manage the risks associated with telemedicine for organisations and practitioners alike. Whilst many of these suggestions are not mandatory by regulators, they can play a vital role in managing exposures. Implementing these points may help control the level of exposure that’s associated with telemedical services.
This article is intended to act as advice and general information only. Please seek the correct legal and regulatory advice wherever its applicable.
1) Training and Education
By conducting frequent training sessions for management, administrative staff, medical practitioners and other employees, everyone within the organisation can be kept up to date with compliance policies, protocols, strategies and conduct.
Providing these trainings and refreshers will ensure that the organisation is “singing from the same hymn sheet”. Updates to personnel can be effectively made through newsletters, memoranda communications and training sessions.
2) Use of clearly defined procedures and protocols
Ensuring that there are defined procedures and protocols in place (that follow the guidance offered by regulators) is important in the fluidity and continuity of treatments provided, especially amongst multiple care providers. This may include (but not limited to):
Defining what constitutes as an emergency.
Guidance on how to manage emergencies.
Referral and follow-up processes.
This will provide a unified approach to care provided throughout the organisation and protects against errors occurring.
3) System and Platform Updates
The importance of regular system updates and maintenance cannot be understated. System updates are used to maintain and in some case strengthen the platforms, software’s and digital apparatus being used within telemedical organisations.
Examples of these updates include (but are not limited to):
Antivirus updates and scans.
Software functionality testing.
Static code analysis.
These updates can protect against cyber-attacks, system failures and fluid system functioning which could ultimately impact the experience or health of patients.
4) Auditing and Peer Reviews
Conducting diarised audits and peer reviews should be included within the compliance structure to ensure that there is a constant quality control measure within the organisation.
Furthermore, for scenarios where less than satisfactory service or treatments levels have been identified, it gives the organisation an opportunity to fix, review and replace the contributory factors allowing for exceptional care standards.
5) Use of a compliance officer
By appointing a compliance officer that oversees and administers the organisations compliance and regulation curriculums, the enterprise will benefit from someone who can manage things like:
Reviewing organisational protocols.
Updated prescribing protocols.
Billings and reimbursements.
*A compliance officer may not be limited to these suggestions.
6) Preserving patient notes and records
Preserving patient notes and records is vital within telemedicine. Furthermore, the finer details of consultations should be included so that a robust defence can be formed in the event of an allegation, complaint or claim.
Records should be audited intermittently to ensure that the quality of notes is of a sufficient standard (which should be dictated and enforced by the organisation).
Importantly, all follow up recommendations and advices are important in evidence that an appropriate level of care was provided.
Whilst there are a host of other measures that can be taken to mitigate risk, claims and allegations it is evident that organisations that will be successful within this evolving industry are those that have a well organised and structured strategy to mitigate risks. Although there is always a chance of a medical malpractice claim arising from a clinical negligence or misdiagnosis point of view, the non-clinical exposures are ones that can be effectively controlled and managed.