Medical indemnity is just as important with telemedicine as in-person medicine. The good news is that most medical defence organisations already include this cover for the majority of doctors for no extra fee. It’s worth contacting them to enquire whether they need to be informed that you’re working remotely, as some require this and some don’t.
The particular areas of telemedicine which may not be covered are services for paediatric patients and private patients, so check with your provider. If you’re a GP partner and would like your practice nurse colleagues to provide remote consultations, this may require an additional level of indemnity.
If you need to make use of your cover for any reason, your provider will need to check that you’ve conducted yourself in a reasonable and appropriate manner. With telemedicine this can be demonstrated in a number of additional ways to in-person medicine, such as using a professional environment and remote working set-up, attendance at telemedicine training courses, ingrained standard practices to ensure patient safety and confidentiality, pre-prepared back-up plans for record-keeping and communication in case of technical glitches, documented evidence of decision-making regarding the need for any in-person consultations, and awareness of the current GMC guidance as well as your own organisational policies on remote consultations and prescribing.
Most medical defence organisations specify that both doctor and patient have to physically be in the same country during any consultations. If a patient happens to be abroad, their doctor will need indemnity to cover their practice where the patient resides. Any doctors who provide telemedicine to patients who are abroad should research if they need to register with the relevant regulatory body in that country, get detailed information about where the patient is based, find out where any medicines will be dispensed, arrange ways to monitor the patient’s condition in coordination with any local healthcare teams, check if there are any different restrictions on medicines or product licences, and be knowledgeable about any import/export requirements for medicines from the relevant Regulatory Agency.
Remember to check with your provider if:
• Your telemedicine
work is included within your current level of cover
• You will be treating paediatric or private patients
• Your nurse colleagues are intending to undertake remote consultations via your organisation
You’re planning to treat patients who reside in a different country to you