Telemedicine Malpractice Risks and How To Avoid Them
Telemedicine is a term used to explain the remote diagnosis and treatment of patients through telecommunication channels, like the web and mobile platforms.
It provides patients with endless opportunities to connect with medical professionals from anywhere, as long as they have a strong enough internet connection.
The telemedicine market is one of many digital innovations that has grown exponentially over the course of the last decade.
Now, many hospitals and other medical facilities have installed some form of telemedicine structure into their businesses as a way to make more money, and better serve the needs of those they provide services to.
A large reason why this form of medicine has become so popular is because it caters for a nation that has become far more mobile, and more prone to working hours that make visiting a medical facility more difficult.
When Digital Authority Partners reports that there are 3.2 billion people on the internet around the world, with a large proportion of those going online to find out vital health information, you can understand why people are reacting so well to the shift in the way their medical needs are met.
Despite the positive reaction from patients, however, there is growing concern from physicians about the safety of telemedicine.
With so many pieces of legislation and regulations in place to protect the patient, how can a medical professional supposed to know what they can and cannot do using telemedicine devices?
The truth is, there are risks, which have landed professionals in hot water—and even led to prison sentences in the past.
We don’t want you to worry, however, which is why we have come up with a list of the common malpractice risks and ways you can avoid them.
One of the big problems faced by telemedicine providers, and medical professionals who work through them, is online prescribing.
It was in one such case that a doctor prescribed an antidepressant to a patient in response to questions received in an online questionnaire.
Unfortunately, shortly after filling the prescription, the patient took their own life. In this case, the doctor was sentenced to nine months in a county jail, as well as a fine of more than $4000 for practicing medicine in a patient’s home state without being licenced in that state.
The most important thing to do in order to protect yourself in this situation is to look up state-specific information about online prescribing in every state you intend of issuing prescriptions.
You need to go to the medical board for each state to find out whether they require doctors to have a pre-existing relationship with a patient to provide them with a prescription, as well as how this relationship is defined.
You may also want to find out if they require a face-to-face physical exam prior to online prescriptions being issued, or whether such an exam can be performed suing a telemedicine platform like a video call.
Some states have also banned the prescription of certain medications via telemedicine, so it’s also important to find out whether you can prescribe a medication to a patient before you do it.
Confidentiality Breaches Of Private Information
Handling confidentiality on a telemedicine platform isn’t as easy at it would be with face-to-face communications in a medical facility.
With all the data stored online, it can be easy to hack into without the right security measures in place, and hackers will do everything they can to retrieve information that is potentially worth hundreds of thousands—if not millions—of dollars.
It’s also difficult to keep information secure when many telemedicine apps take place using a phone or laptop, which can be handled by many different people at once.
The best thing you can do to avoid confidentiality breaches is use a highly secure network to store your data on.
Blockchain works well for this, with no central network and immutable software that makes it almost impossible to hack into.
It’s also worthwhile creating a two-step authentication process to make sure that private information by an individual can only be accessed by them.
This might mean having a password followed by fingerprint verification before allowing someone access to the information within your app.
If you are a physician working on a telemedicine app, enquiring about the security measures to protect private data is also worthwhile. Or work with a consulting company who can help you figure out what to do about security (check out this great list).
As you can tell from this article, there are definitely things you need to think about when it comes to being a practicing medical professional on a telemedicine website.
These malpractice risks are, however, easily avoidable if you research state laws and make sure that all the necessarily security measures are in place, ensuring that you and the company are performing to the same standards of an in-person medical facility.
This guest post comes from JGBilling, one of the top Medical Billing Companies in Chicago