April 22, 2020 by Jason Contant
COVID-19 has sharply increased the demand for telemedicine in Canada, and with it comes emerging risks and possible unexpected gaps in coverage for clients.
Telemedicine – or using video, audio and other technologies to deliver preventive, diagnostic and treatment services – allows practitioners and patients to practice social distancing while at the same time ensuring patients receive the care they need. But cover can fall across many different lines, from medical malpractice and professional liability to tech liability and cyber, leaving clients with potential gaps in cover.
“Traditionally, insureds in this sector would normally need two standard policies,” says Derek Dow, underwriter, miscellaneous medical and life sciences with specialist insurer Beazley Canada. “And when you are using a piecemeal approach like that, obviously there’s the potential for ambiguity and not knowing where coverage should fall between the different policies.”
Dow spoke to Canadian Underwriter Monday. He said there was already an increased adoption and demand for telemedicine in Canada before the pandemic. In August 2019, the Canadian Medical Association published research that found seven in 10 Canadians would take a virtual care appointment if available.
“For me, that sets the stage for what the demand for virtual care was even before COVID-19 even started,” Dow said. “Insofar as our experience, we’ve absolutely seen a surge in demand for telemedicine services in Canada as a result of COVID-19.”
One key area of growth, and where Beazley expects to see a lot of potential risk exposure, is in the area of mobile health solutions. Here, clients or entities are using mobile technology like a wearable device to assist with a patient’s self-care or symptom-checking. Similarly, a policy could cater to lifestyle and wellness applications that support healthy lifestyle choices. Lastly, a policy could cover online platforms and portals that are being used to manage the continuum of care of patients among a range of healthcare providers, ensuring they all have access to the same information in real-time.
Dow spoke with Canadian Underwriter following the recent release of Beazley Virtual Care in Canada. The product, which draws on the experience of underwriting Virtual Care in the United States since 2017, responds to risks associated with providing digital healthcare and gaps in policies. It covers:
Optional extensions include: