Technology has enabled the healthcare industry to make great advancements over the last several years. Patients can now schedule appointments, obtain test results, access health records, and even communicate with their doctors online via virtual appointments.
Unfortunately, with this ease of access, comes privacy concerns that every physician should be aware of. Below, the experienced insurance agents at Unity Insurance discuss the benefits and risks of healthcare technology in the digital era.
Benefits of Healthcare Technology
For most patients, being able to access not only their doctor but also their medical records virtually helps to cut down on secondary costs associated with in-person visits. This includes the costs for transportation, childcare and time away from work. This is especially true for those who travel long distances to see their doctor or those who are managing chronic conditions that require frequent interactions with their physician.
Ease of Access and Patient Satisfaction
By making more frequent contact easier between physicians and patients, healthcare technology drastically cuts down on the amount of life disruptions that go along with in-person visits or managing a chronic condition. In most cases, this creates a better overall experience for both the physician and the patient who are now able to communicate more often while also accomplishing more throughout the course of a regular day due to the convenience that is made available by healthcare technology.
Reduced Risk of Infection
Healthcare technology was introduced long before COVID-19. However, since the beginning of the pandemic, virtual appointments, otherwise known as telemedicine, have skyrocketed. With the fear of infection rapidly spreading, most patients and physicians preferred to meet virtually to discuss anything that did not necessarily require an in-person examination. This undoubtedly helped to reduce the risks of infection by allowing patients to communicate with their doctors about symptoms, next steps and follow up appointments without having to put themselves at risk.
Risks of Healthcare Technology
Telemedicine has offered a secondary option for patients who are weary of in-person visits due to COVID-19 or physicians who want to make themselves more available for their patients. However, it is important for both parties to know that telemedicine is not a replacement for in-person visits. As we have all become more familiar with virtual meetings, we have become more aware of the limitations that go along with them. Unreliable connections, audio issues and delays are all common distractions that can take away from the normal flow of conversation during a virtual appointment.
For physicians, this makes it much more difficult to properly assess a person’s symptoms or condition, which can increase the chances of a diagnostic error. Whenever possible, physicians should request that appointments be taken in-person to ensure the best possible outcome. However, if a virtual meeting is the only option, physicians should let patients know that they may not be able to make an adequate evaluation by video.
Data Privacy and Cyber Liability
Most medical offices are now storing their patient data online and relying on softwares to keep their offices on schedule and their sensitive data safe. The increased reliance on healthcare technology makes patient data at risk during the event of a security breach. Since the information that is being stored is sensitive and personal, a single breach could cause lengthy network shutdowns that lead to extensive business interruption, substantial fines and potential lawsuits. It is important for physicians, especially those who are part of a small medical practice, to be aware of best practices for storing sensitive patient information. HIPAA Journal has many resources, such as compliance checklists, that can be used to help ensure you are doing everything possible to keep patient information safe.
Contact the Professionals at Unity Insurance to Learn More
Unity Insurance’s skilled and experienced insurance professionals are available to assist you in selecting the appropriate coverage for you. To learn more, call Unity Insurance at 800-543-1262 today.