Physician Liability,Technology and Caregivers

Physician on ComputerIn the world of physician liability coverage, there’s always something new to think (and worry) about. The website had an interesting article recently talking about how technology is connecting physicians and caregivers. According to the article, twenty-nine percent of the American population serves as a caregiver for someone else. With a number that high, it is comes as no surprise that caregivers are wanting more and more ways to connect with the care recipient’s physician. Many of these caregivers provide around 20 hours of care per week, in addition to working a full-time job. As a result, many caregivers are looking to technology to help them become more efficient and organized and, therefore, provide better care. Seeing this trend, many physicians are becoming pro-active and are starting to provide their patients and their caregivers with technology to help everyone stay in touch –but we think there are several things to consider regarding their medical liability and physician liability coverage.

A study published this past January provides some nice data to back up this trend. The National Alliance for Caregiving and UnitedHealthcare discovered that 77% of caregivers believe technology can save time, 76% believe it can help them manage the logistics of caregiving better, and 74% believe that it can increase feelings of effectiveness as a caregiver, and also reduce stress. The study goes on to say that physicians are often the most influential individual in determining the use of technology. Eighty-eight percent of individuals surveyed said that if a health professional explained how the technology would help them, they would be more likely to try it. And, eighty percent said they’d be more likely to try technology if they were shown how to use and install it. The article goes on to detail how technology can aid the care team in many ways. It can assist with coordination of care, medication compliance, and remote monitoring. But how does all of this relate to physician liability coverage?

Well, all of this sounds terrific until you consider a few realities that provide significant, but surmountable, hurdles that cannot be underestimated: HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) laws and physician liability and physician liability coverage. With so much to be considered (and at risk) when implementing technology with caregivers, we suggest proceeding with caution. It is important to know: 1) how your physician liability policy covers (or does not cover) you with respect to technology and your practice, as policies vary, 2) the HIPAA laws and 3) any additional state laws that may pertain to you.

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