Archives: October 2020

Your Patient Is Logging on Now: The Risks and Benefits of Telehealth in the Future of Healthcare

SOURCE: The Doctors Company Long before the COVID-19 pandemic struck, telemedicine was part of the standard delivery of care in the U.S., but used very rarely. By the end of April, telemedicine visits had skyrocketed to nearly one million visits per week.1 (By telemedicine, we mean live remote visits with a clinician, as opposed to telehealth, a broader term encompassing telemedicine plus remote monitoring, asynchronous data collection, and a variety of other incorporations of technology into nonclinical patient and professional health-related areas.) Many patients and physicians have discovered that they appreciate the conveniences of virtual healthcare, and its support of the physician-patient relationship.2 They’ve considered how telemedicine increases access to care (for some patients) while decreasing infection risk, not only in a pandemic but during routine flu season or for immunocompromised patients. Though telemedicine’s near future is clouded by uncertainties regarding reimbursement,3 state-to-state licensing hassles, and privacy issues, for the long haul, telemedicine is here to stay. Sweeping benefits from telehealth are still emerging—and so are its risks. Reduced infection risk and increased access to care are possible with recognition that telemedicine is not a panacea: Telemedicine is a helpful adjunct to in-person care, when supported by best known practices….

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Physician liability during COVID

SOURCE: Medical Economics What you need to know to protect your practice. The COVID-19 pandemic has brought a lot of unknowns into the practice of medicine. Doctors are already dealing with diagnosing and treating people affected by the deadly virus while trying to keep themselves and their staffs safe from infection. But with the threat of infection also comes the threat of being sued for not taking the proper precautions against it. Medical Economics spoke with Stephanie Sheps, vice president of claims, Coverys, a medical liability insurance provider, to discuss liability risk in the age of COVID. (Editor’s note: The following transcript has been edited for clarity and brevity.) Medical Economics: What new liability threats have emerged from COVID-19? Stephanie Sheps: First, there are the obvious risks that include transmission of COVID, both to patients and to staff. It’s a novel issue because we’re not fully understanding this virus yet, so things continue to evolve daily. Based on patient and provider awareness and precautionary measures taken to mitigate these risks, I believe that the greater liability actually stems from pandemic-related or contextual realms. And so, pandemic risks are those that do not involve the diagnosis or treatment of COVID-19, or…

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October 2020 Newsletter

Alternative approaches to COVID-19 liability As the COVID-19 pandemic reaches new heights into the fall and winter, an opinion piece highlights the medical liability crisis that could lie ahead — and an alternative resolution. Writing in the Journal of the American Medical Association, legal and medical experts William M. Sage, MD, JD; Richard C. Boothman, JD; and Thomas H. Gallagher, MD; analyzed liability insurance trends and non-traditional approaches to reform amid COVID-19. While some states have passed or enacted liability protections related to health care delivery during the health emergency, the opinion piece highlighted that the medical liability insurance market entered a new period of growth in 2018, with rates growing 5.4%. Rates for 2019 rose another 1.2%. The authors advocate for consideration of communication and resolution programs — such as the well-known ‘Michigan model’ — that allowed the health system to forgo excess coverage. This approach “reduced financial uncertainty by promptly resolving most well-founded claims without litigation,” the authors state. Now, the writers are urging policymakers to incorporate this alternative model in COVID-19 liability initiatives. “Applying communication and resolution program principles during the pandemic could both improve quality of care and avert high-dollar claims, which in turn could potentially…

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