Telemedicine Opportunities are Growing:

October 27, 2015

According to a market research report published by Mordor Intelligence, the Telemedicine market is going to soar past $30B….An increasingly aged population and healthcare costs are propelling the market growth; The goal of the Affordable Care Act is to provide more people with higher quality health care at lower costs.

August 4, 2015, The global market for telemedicine is expected to be worth more than $34 billion by the end of 2020.

In this new market research report, "Global Telemedicine Market - Growth, Trends & Forecasts (2015-2020)", they determine that North America is the largest market globally, accounting for more than 40 percent of the global market size.

One factor that is driving the growth of telemedicine is that it has been proven to effectively reduce cost in the areas of disease management. In addition telemedicine is an easy platform for online therapies using face-to-face video technology in the field of psychiatric, and even primary care- histories and physicals. More and more specialties from neurology to radiology are taking advantage of this more affordable method of providing medical services.

Also, many healthcare systems are trying to reduce both the number of hospital visits and the length of stay in hospitals, which has led to a growing trend for patients to be monitored in their home environment and as a result, a growing trend for telemedicine market.

Opportunities for Individual physicians to add to their annual medical services annual income:

Since 2009, when it became apparent that the affordable care act was going to be implemented, change was imminent. We have seen individual physicians sell their practices and merge with hospital systems and foundations. Although this is not a perfect fit for all of our practitioners, some of the smaller groups that have chosen to go “alone”, trying to make it within a payer system that reduces reimbursements, have had to become creative. Two areas of growth, that we are seeing take off, as areas that provide more income to physicians and allow them to maintain their independence is the area of signing independent contractors as telemedicine physicians and taking on the responsibilities of providing medical director duties for various medical entities.

Another driving factor of growth in telemedicine is: the aging baby boom generation:

Often the trend in healthcare, whether it is in the elective procedure area or clinical area, is simply following the money. And, as has been the custom throughout the life of the baby boom generation, this juggernaut of consumers has created market trend. The most recent trend being telemedicine; combining increased healthcare costs in a growing demographic that is aging and experiencing the common symptoms of chronic pain and disease. Using telemedicine technology they are creating opportunities by providing better care at lower costs and involving more physicians and paramedical providers who can provide their services as independent contractors for advanced sophisticated telemedicine entities. Increasing healthcare costs and providing a clear and more efficient way for telemedicine and related applications, according to the report. Telemedicine holds a great potential for the population aged 60 years and above. As the population increase, and the incidence of chronic disease increases, the growth of telemed solutions will continue.

Insurance Solutions are available for Individual Physicians providing services as independent contractors:

A few years ago it seemed that you could not purchase a professional liability policy for less than $5,000 annual premium. It was very difficult to get any specialty healthcare liability insurance company to provide $1 million of defense and indemnity for less than $5,000 minimum premium. Recently, however, some risk retention groups that have focused on providing solutions to individual physicians who are willing to try limited part-time telemedicine services. These companies are willing to issue policies for less than $2,500 . This low premium even goes as low as $ 1,200 for first year policies. These are not occurrence policies, so there is a tail that is due at the end of that policy. With the progression and maturation of claims made policies, premiums can be expected to hit that $5,000 minimum premium figure ….and, starting lower for the first three years gives physicians an opportunity to gain a foothold in this growing market. It is nice to have more than one malpractice insurance company that is quick to underwrite and quick to understand specialty services within this healthcare innovative niche.

The Doctors’ Company provides affordable group Telemedicine Malpractice Insurance solutions and has been careful to measure this field slowly. The Doctors’ Company is one of the nation’s most successful and innovative and affordable providers of hospitalist malpractice insurance, and is now using this same model of pricing and coverage conditions to issue telemedicine policies in almost every state in the nation.

Telemedicine Malpractice Insurance endorsed for no additional premium

If a physician already has a clinical practice then the telemedicine coverage is simply added by endorsement or rather it is not excluded and often this coverage can be added for no additional premium for physicians who are looking to take a telemedicine only policy; covering them within their specialty or providing telemedicine services. We have many solutions. The premiums range from $1,000 to $10,000 annually and limits range from $250,000 to $2million.

The Doctors’ Company patient Safety Foundation and Risk Management Department encourages caution in this growing field:

The adoption of telemedicine throughout specialties is undeniable for individual doctors as well as medical healthcare organizations as effective and affordable solutions for patients who are too far to make it to the clinic or who are disabled or have other barriers, including financial, psychological, or emotional barriers that impede their access to healthcare. The Department of Health and Human Services has identified some shortage areas in geographic areas and number of primary care physicians. By using Skype, secure Internet connections and effective satellite technology the demand for healthcare can be met. Innovative practices and large health systems like Kaiser are already meeting this demand by contracting with local clinics in underserved areas to help manage patient volume. The Doctor's Insurance Agency provides professional liability insurance to some family practitioners, internal medicine doctors, urologists and general surgeons. Each have their own independent physician malpractice policy and are not paying more than $3,000 per year. One of these physicians pays no additional premium because they have not discontinued their general surgical clinical practice.

The Caution is in the Data Security:

The caution that is urged by companies like The Doctors Company lies in understanding the risks with access patient information, the paradox of telemedicine services and the explosive growth within. Concurrently the Center for Medicaid and Medicare services and the federal government are tightening regulations for privacy and data security and there are legal considerations for online interactions; compliance with licensure and of course professional liability policies for out-of-state interactions must be addressed completely by the underwriters. The agents representing you must understand the risks and present them clearly so that there are no problems at the time of claims.

Out of State Licensing Concerns for Telemedicine Doctors:

According to the Federation of State medical boards only 12 states have provided a special-purpose license allowing for cross-border telemedicine services… most states require a complete license if the patient lies with in jurisdiction of the state ..The Doctors’ Insurance Agency uses a very simple guide: Active Licenses should he be held in the state where the physician is residing and the state where the patient resides.

The Doctors’ Company Patient Safety Department also advises other considerations to be sure the telemed services are secure:

  • securing the computer network
  • clearly defining the protocols for WebCam and web-based portals
  • using proper technology to protect the privacy of individuals who do not want to sit through real-time Skype patient exams
  • using proper encryption
  • developing methods to ensure the identity of the patient so that you are not giving information to imposters
  • and consider the dynamics of a telemedicine relationship and how it differs from a real encounter face-to-face