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Gallagher Healthcare :: Industry InsightsBy Gallagher Healthcare | 7/21/2023
Is Telehealth Safe? Security Risks and Telehealth
A recent surge in the popularity of telemedicine has incentivized many health care providers to offer telehealth services — and for good reason. Telehealth could potentially make health care services more accessible and affordable for patients. However, telehealth visits via video chats or phone calls can also pose several data security and medical malpractice risks.
This article covers whether telehealth is safe and discusses telehealth policies that can protect you or your practice from malpractice claims.
What Is Medical Malpractice?
Medical malpractice occurs when a medical provider fails to provide a reasonable, appropriate or ethical standard of care. This act of negligence results in a patient's physical, mental or emotional injury, significant financial losses or death. Examples of medical malpractice can include:
- Surgical errors.
- Prescribing the wrong type of medication.
Because telehealth relies on technology, telehealth malpractice risks might include a failure to recognize symptoms or diagnose an illness or result in a misdiagnosis all together. These risks might also include data breaches and Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) violations.
Telehealth Malpractice Risks
The most common telehealth security and malpractice risks include:
- Misdiagnosis: It is far easier to communicate with patients, evaluate their symptoms and diagnose illnesses when they visit in person. According to one study, misdiagnosis of cancer, stroke and infection account for most telehealth medical malpractice claims.
- Data breaches: While telehealth platforms have made health care services more accessible, communicating virtually poses data security and hacking risks. These risks magnify if the provider uses an unencrypted platform that does not comport with HIPAA requirements.
- HIPAA violations: Like in-person visits, medical providers must comply with HIPAA guidelines during telehealth visits. Providers should understand telemedicine's potential for specific HIPAA violations, including losing devices or using platforms that are not compliant with HIPAA guidelines.
Critical Telehealth Policies
Medical professionals can take the following steps to protect their practices from malpractice claims:
- Obtain a patient's written, informed consent stating they understand the potential risks of receiving telehealth services.
- Understand HIPAA guidelines as they pertain to telehealth services and conduct routine risk management assessments.
- Secure adequate medical malpractice liability coverage from a trusted insurance brokerage and risk management firm.
Request a Quote for Malpractice Liability Insurance Today
Is your medical facility prepared for a malpractice claim? Gallagher Healthcare has helped over 60,000 medical professionals protect their medical practices, specialty groups or clinics from costly and reputation-damaging medical malpractice claims. Our experienced advisors stay up to date on health care laws, HIPAA guidelines and telemedicine regulations, helping you secure the most comprehensive, cost-effective coverage for your situation.