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Telemedicine expansion has potential liability concerns

The dramatic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic has enabled Telemedicine to fundamentally change patient habits cross Europe, opening the way for video consultations with a doctor.

Telemedicine is the provision of healthcare remotely by means of telecommunications technology and has become increasingly vital during the pandemic due to the restrictions that have been imposed. For individual patients, Telemedicine devices allow you to monitor your health without having to visit your GP and can help in dealing with blood pressure, asthma, pulmonary disease, diabetes or other recurring infections.

An estimated  4.5 million Telemedicine consultations between March and August 2020 were carried out on the French doctor appointment booking platform Doctolib, highlighting how COVID-19 has shaped the monitoring of patients and delivery of medical advice.

The Digital Health Market size was estimated at over USD 106 billion in 2019 and the industry is predicted to grow at 28.5% compound annual growth (CAGR) through 2026 with the growing numbers of COVID-19 cases across the globe increasing the adoption of digital health technologies. As an increasing number of patients turn to digital health technologies, companies are expanding their capabilities to deal with the sudden surge in patient volume. 

The current market in Europe is expected to expand thanks to the adoption of wearable remote monitoring devices and the World Health Organisation (WHO) has highlighted the importance of Telemedicine stating:” Telemedicine can contribute to achieving universal health coverage by improving access for patients to quality, cost-effective, health services wherever they may be. It is particularly valuable for those in remote areas, vulnerable groups and ageing populations. "

However, as the market rapidly expands there are understandable concerns regarding potential misuse of patient data, GDPR compliance and reporting,  liabilities of the health professional, the duty to maintain the confidentiality and privacy of patient records, and the jurisdictional problems associated with cross-border consultations.

In England, the NHS Spine, the digital central point allowing the exchange of information across local and national NHS systems, supports the IT infrastructure for health and social care, joining together over 23,000 healthcare IT systems in 20,500 organisations which clearly shows the reach and complexity of the issue.

As digital technology systems start to play a bigger role in healthcare decisions, it raises the question of who is liable when something goes wrong – the doctor or the software company. Telemedicine insurance protects healthcare practitioners from the risks associated with delivering services remotely. Documenting the contractual terms and conditions between the healthcare provider and the technology company is key to mitigating errors and omissions (E&O) risk.

W Denis Insurance Brokers are experts at the placement of insurance for Medical Professional Liability, Technology, Cyber & Financial Risks. With existing clients providing telemedicine services in over 35 countries around the world, our assistance is available via either local insurance or a global reinsurance basis.

To speak to an expert, make contact with Daniel.moss@wdenis.co.uk or call 0044 (0) 113 2437243

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