Some of the payers with which you contract may urge patients to use various telemedicine services rather than visit your office. The first step in handling this reality is accepting that such sources of "virtual" competition are here to stay, Lucien W. Roberts, administrator of Gastrointestinal Specialists in Virginia, wrote in a recent post for Physicians Practice.
Next, ask yourself whether you're equipped to compete. "Are you patient-friendly in your hours, location, and care? How can you be better? If you deliver great service and great access, your patients have little reason to seek out other options," Roberts wrote. "Don't give them an excuse to look elsewhere."
Moreover, you may want to consider adding telemedicine services to your own practice, noting to payers that you can provide such care at the same price as others while ensuring better continuity of care.
If you do decide to get into the telemedicine game, however, be sure to play by the rules. You can protect yourself from malpractice risks associated with virtual care by taking the following steps, Paul D. Squire, a senior attorney at Garfunkel Wild, P.C., recently wrote in Medical Economics:
- Make sure the physician providing telemedicine services is licensed in the patient's state, as required by most state laws. Physicians in participating states can use the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact to streamline the process of becoming licensed in other states.
- Check with your liability insurance carrier about whether you need to purchase extra coverage for telemedicine services, which are excluded from many standard policies.
- Conform to standards of care. "A telemedicine provider must conform to the standard of care applicable and equivalent to what is expected for in-person care as appropriate to the patient's age and presenting condition," according to Squire.