Protecting themselves from liability is one of the first things that doctors consider when they make a change to their practice or begin providing an additional service. Questions about malpractice coverage are common and often the first thing providers want to clarify.
The Center For Connected Health Policy reports that there have been few noted malpractice suits related to telemedicine services, but they encourage providers to do their due diligence and carry the right coverage as they would for in-person services.
The following guidelines come from recommendations made by The Center For Connected Health Policy, and they do not represent official guidance on malpractice coverage or the type of policy necessary. For definitive information and guidance, we recommend contacting your malpractice coverage or legal counsel.
Contact Your Carrier
Before adding telemedicine to your practice, reach out to your malpractice coverage and verify that your current policy covers telemedicine services. Many carriers have a list of technical requirements and telemedicine best practices that they provide to their insured.
The Center For Connected Health Policy also recommends discussing whether the policy allows you to practice over state lines. Some policies may not extend outside the boundaries of the state where you are licensed, and you may need multiple policies if you’re licensed in more than one state. If you were hoping to connect with patients while on vacation or in another location where you are not licensed, this is important information to have.
Why Does My Location Matter?
State laws vary considerably on malpractice judgments, and some insurers may not be able to cover services that are provided in states with laws the vary markedly from the state where the policy was bound. If you’re licensed in multiple states or you travel frequently and hope to use telemedicine to bridge those gaps, you’ll want to make this clear to your insurance carrier so the representative can verify that your coverage extends to these circumstances.
Will The Premium Go Up?
Not necessarily. Many malpractice insurance binders cover physicians regardless how they deliver services, and telemedicine may already be considered under your current policy. In situations where the policy is new and the provider has not been insured for some time, there may be an increase in premium if you’re opening a virtual only practice. Every insurer will be different, however, and there is no one-size-fits-all response to that question. The best solution is to ask!
Do You Need Additional Coverage?
There are situations where a policy does not cover telemedicine services, but they’re rare. In those instances, providers may have to purchase an additional rider to cover the telemedicine services. Your carrier should be able to explain this to you when you call.
Other Kinds of Coverage
The Center For Connected Health Policy recommends providers evaluate the need for policies that cover electronic security issues like data breaches– if this is not already covered in your malpractice policy. These policies are not required to practice telemedicine, but they do add an additional layer of protection.
In general, malpractice insurance is rarely a hurdle for providers who want to add telemedicine to their practices. Virtual-only practices may require additional coverage in some instances, but premium increases otherwise are rare. By working with a platform partner like Mend, you can ensure that you meet all of the technological requirements to satisfy your malpractice coverage’s requirements, and you can quickly be on your way to a successful telemedicine implementation!