Telemedicine: Academics flag cyber and ethical risks

Safeguarding actions are needed to combat the evolving risk landscape in the delivery of telemedicine, according to research conducted by Bayes Business School (formerly Cass Business School) and insurance broker, Lockton.

The specific risks cyber and ethical risks posed by telemedicine to care homes could even outweigh its value unless they are urgently addressed, the report’s authors assert.

Implications of telemedicine in care homes: Considerations for the evolving risk landscape warns that a lack of a regulatory framework concerning the deployment of telemedicine across the UK could pose a particular risk to vulnerable patients.

Dr Bryce, course director on the MSc in Insurance and Risk Management, commented: “The rapidly evolving list of considerations for care providers means insurance cover is absolutely necessary. Since the onset of Covid, there has been a rapid rise in the use of telemedicine solutions globally and while the value of medtech in supporting patients is clear for all to see, that does not make it infallible."

The failure of digital health services, it says, could result in large liability claims because of such errors as the deletion of crucial information relating to a symptom; inappropriate levels of medication being administered by care givers; or having the wrong medications prescribed.

The insurance implications of introducing telemedicine solutions to care homes are substantial, according to the report, and care home providers must consider their approach across strategic, operational, technological and business risks.

“Medical malpractice may be an unintentional consequence of telemedicine as nothing can replace human interactions, which is especially valuable for those in care homes who are twice as likely to suffer severe loneliness than the wider community," Dr Bryce added. “In January, the government announced that it would spend up to £250m on extra beds in care homes to help discharge patients to free up hospital beds. With more patients potentially coming through the doors, the ever more sophisticated threats from cyber attackers, plus ethical and legal concerns, must be taken even more seriously. Care homes must tread cautiously if they are to balance patient care and ensuring their own cover.”

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