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Research & Analysis


April 21st, 2015 | 2 min. read

By Lindsay Youngs

This is the first article in a series focused on emerging trends in MPL insurance for telemedicine.

Telemedicine emerged decades ago, but was predominantly relegated to imaging/radiology services. For years this was a business to business or radiologist to primary care physician service.  Now with rapidly evolving technology, this field has swiftly developed into a wide array of digital medicine specialties.  These can range from remote neuro-monitoring to tele-dermatology, and even into primary care.  Medical providers now have the ability to interact with patients directly over a wide range of transmittal options.

Key Reasons for Expansion

The Affordable Care Act

With the passing of the Affordable Care Act (ACA), additional emphasis has been put on the efficiency and access of provider care.  The ACA even has developed special considerations for the use of telemedicine within the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act provisions.   Though there are still some reimbursement hurdles to work through, an increasing number of healthcare providers are using digital medicine as a way to maintain and even increase their patient base, while complying with the changing legislation.

Mobility of Patients

Telemedicine not only increases access for rural patients to obtain healthcare that would otherwise not be feasible, but allows regular patients to access their care providers while on the go.  As a society increasingly focused on mobility and ease of communication, this makes for more convenient healthcare.  Imagine being on vacation and being able to still Skype or video conference with your child’s pediatrician.  This capability is not only widely available now, but increasingly popular.

Mobility of Healthcare Providers

Patients are not the only ones embracing the rise of mobile medical consults.  Healthcare providers are also taking advantage of the flexibility that this improving technology allows Telemedicine enables providers to reach out to larger groups of prospective patients that are spread out across larger geographical areas, while still maintaining regular patient contact.

This remote practice even allows providers to continue to provide direct patient care while traveling.  I frequently get requests for doctors who want to spend time at their vacation homes, but still want to “see” patients.  This allows them to continue to practice, even while away.

Telemedicine is not new.  Digital medicine has been around since the 1970’s, but with advent of so many progressive technologies, it is growing exponentially.  The field has surpassed telephonic, email, and Skype exchange in favor of numerous medical software capabilities gearing toward specific specialties.  So much so, that the Federation of State Medical Boards (FSMB) is constantly updating policy and best practices for this rapidly changing arena.

In next month’s article, I’ll discuss key coverage issues for insuring medical malpractice risks for telemedicine.