Remote. Online. Distanced. Here’s how to insure your virtual care or e-health clinic
Telemedicine is trending. Months into the COVID-19 pandemic are feeling like years. As a result, people are changing how they live their lives as well as manage their health.
Telemedicine aka virtual care aka e-health delivery has quickly emerged as a vitally important way in which medical providers can continue to practice while social distancing.
While we all live through COVID-19, accessing health care services via computer has quickly emerged as an essential service.
Canadian physicians, psychiatrists, psychologists, Nurse Practitioners, Physician Assistants, Registered Nurses, dentists and others are now delivering virtual care. If your medical practice is now virtual, there are different and significant risk exposures that you need to be aware of.
Therefore, you need to know that your virtual care or e-health clinic has the best coverage in place should a worse-case scenario happen. Here at ALIGNED, we are always on the outlook for new insurance solutions that are built to address emerging risk exposures. Keep reading to learn how you can insure a virtual care or e-health clinic in Canada.
Why coverage gaps are keeping virtual care and e-health clinic owners up at night
As the owner or operator of a healthcare clinic you are constantly monitoring the vital signs of your practice. This is why you are integrating new technology into your organization.
Wearable technology devices with healthcare and lifestyle management tracking are just one way you and your patients are monitoring and sharing insightful data. Technology also provides “on-demand access to high quality and often specialist medical expertise that may be difficult or impossible to access locally. Apps and wearable devices facilitate regular monitoring of specific conditions, as well as helping individuals with general wellness and lifestyle choices.”1
However, the advance of these approaches also comes with risks. These include those that derive from shortcomings in the data and health advice provided, as well as error or malfunction in the technologies themselves, alongside data privacy and security concerns.”2
For example, let’s say a patient’s digital medical record isn’t checked. “A patient subscribes to a family physician consultation app service. The app provider uses a network of freelance doctors one of whom fails to check the patient’s allergy history contained in the digital records held by the app service. The patient has a fatal reaction to the penicillin-based antibiotic prescribed by the doctor during the virtual consultation. The app provider and doctor would both be at risk of a medical malpractice liability claim.”3
Or an important diagnosis isn’t made. For instance, “An app is designed to check patients’ skin for signs of skin cancer, by taking a photograph of any suspicious lesions, with a timely response direct to the patient’s phone. The app’s AI technology fails to flag a patient’s cancerous lesions for further investigation, resulting in a claim.”4
These are just two examples of potential claims scenarios that virtual care and e-health clinic may face while using technology hardware, software, platforms and products to deliver telemedicine. So the need for aligning coverage that fills any potential gaps for telemedicine providers is on the rise.
Technology glitches happen. How virtual care insurance delivers broad coverage.
Even before COVID-19, Canadians were early adopters of telemedicine. In fact, “Canada was an early pioneer in the development of virtual care through the work of the late Dr. Maxwell House of Memorial University of Newfoundland in the 1970s.”5 In other words, Dr. House “used telephone technology to provide virtual consultations to remote sites throughout the province.”6
Above all, new technology opens the door to new risk exposures. And some of these risks are deeply embedded within the technology itself.
Firstly, let’s say “an app provides advice on nutrition and appropriate medication for individuals with allergies. A user whose allergy has been captured by the app is advised incorrectly that a particular food supplement is safe to take when it is not, resulting in a severe allergic reaction.”7
Or it might be a phishing expedition. For instance, “An employee of a psychiatry helpline receives a hoax email, purportedly from CRA, asking them to click on a link to claim a rebate. Two weeks later the member of staff receives an email stating that the helpline’s network has been hacked, its data encrypted and that it will only be restored if they contact a stated email address to receive details of a ransom demand.”8
Certainly, these are worst-case risk exposures. Thankfully, we have strong connections with more than 65 of the top insurance companies in Canada and are constantly assessing and bringing new products to our clients.
You need a flexible insurance product. One that’s addressing the needs of telemedicine, virtual care and e-health clinics in Canada.
Here’s just some of the broad coverage you can expect with virtual care insurance:
- Medical malpractice and professional indemnity
- Tech and media liability
- Public and products liability
- Cyber liability
While medical malpractice and professional indemnity are standard practice for healthcare organizations, tech-related coverage provides the broadest solution. For example, here’s how tech and media liability can provide comprehensive coverage for a virtual care clinic:
- “Negligent acts, errors, omissions, misstatements, misleading statement, misrepresentation, unintentional breach of contract and bodily injury in respect of the performance of tech services
- Any software copyright infringement with respect to any tech products
- Negligent acts, errors, omissions, misstatements, misleading statement, misrepresentation and any unintentional breach of contract if any tech product should fail to perform the function as intended
- Media liability coverage includes cover for defamation, libel, slander, product disparagement, trade libel, infringement of copyright and infringement of domain name, trademark, trade name, trade dress, logo, title, metatag or slogan, service mark or service name.”9
Meanwhile, here’s now cyber coverage can deliver breach response services. This coverage responds to the very real threats e-health clinics in Canada are facing:
- “Business interruption and contingent business interruption from security breach or system failure
- Cyber extortion loss, data recovery loss, data and network liability
- Legal and computer forensic services
- Notifications and call centre services
- Credit monitoring, identity monitoring or other personal fraud or loss prevention solutions
- Public relations and crisis management expenses.”10
To sum up, telemedicine is here to stay. In other words, as Canadians keep accessing their healthcare providers virtually and medical professionals continue to use technology to deliver essential services to patients, risks will only increase. This is why it’s so important to work with an ALIGNED business insurance expert who understands the specific needs of virtual care and e-health clinics.
From Vancouver to Calgary and from Toronto to Cambridge, our ALIGNED Advocates know how to secure insurance solutions built to address your new and emerging risk exposures. Talk to us today to get insurance options for your virtual care or e-health clinic ALIGNED with us.
Where to find more info about COVID-19 and the Canadian workplace
The pandemic is changing how we live, work and interact with each other. To help understand COVID-19 risks and commercial insurance Canada products, read our Insurance Blog. In addition, you can keep current by subscribing to our e-news ALIGNMENT Matters on our homepage.
Here’s a selection of recent COVID-19 related news articles that we hope you will find helpful.
- Understanding COVID-19 risk management in your Alberta workplace
- What to know about managing COVID-19 risks in your BC workplace
- COVID-19 risk management in your Ontario workplace
- E-news | Reopening, Changing direction? Shifting online during COVID-19?
- E-news | Cyber risks during COVID-19
- What you need to know about COVID-19 and your business insurance
Source(s): 1-3,5,7-10 Beazley.com: Beazley Virtual Care; 5,6CMA.ca: CMA Health Summit Virtual Care in Canada: Discussion Paper ;