March 5, 2020 by Jason Contant
The convergence of healthcare and technology could have a knock-on effect for the Canadian property and casualty insurance industry, a specialty insurer said recently.
“For healthcare providers, they can largely model what the risks have been for the last 100 years because they haven’t changed,” Tim Boyce, healthcare team leader with London, U.K.-based CFC Underwriting told Canadian Underwriter. “But when you put healthcare and technology together and they collide, it’s going to create lots and lots of ambiguity, particularly if things go wrong with the piece of technology or there is a cyber event and it causes bodily injury.
“That is what we’ve seen across the globe and we see it trickling into Canada.”
For example, exposures in the healthcare industry may span across multiple underwriting teams from medical malpractice to cyber. Worse still, there could be finger-pointing between three or more insurers over the cause and who is going to cover the loss. “When companies are going into an emerging market, they don’t really truly know what the potential new exposures are going to be,” Boyce said in an interview.
He spoke with Canadian Underwriter followed the announcement of the creation last month of a Virtual Care Task Force in Canada, a collaboration between the Canadian Medical Association, the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Canada and the College of Family Physicians of Canada. The joint project is to explore the reasons why healthcare is falling behind other industries in providing digital services and to offer a framework to enable quality virtual care.
Nineteen recommendations were developed, including calls to develop national standards for patient health information access and simplify the registration and licensure processes for physicians to provide virtual care across provincial and territorial boundaries.
There are issues surrounding policy legislation and restrictions on provincial licences, Boyce noted. For example, there is a lack of policy legislation in Canada that would enable physicians to have telemedicine consultations outside their own clinical practice, or doctors require an in-person consultation before the patient can go to electronic means. As well, there are restrictions on provincial borders.
“So for you, if you went over to Saskatchewan and you wanted to speak to your doctor in Toronto, it would be almost impossible to do that across electronic means because of the additional regulations, so these are things that are going to come into play with a virtual care task force and they’re going to assist healthcare systems and physicians to navigate them,” Boyce said. “I think what we’ll see very, very shortly… [is] we’ll see this skyrocket like it has done globally, and the U.S. is a good indicator.”
In the U.S. an estimated 50% of health visits are done virtually (as reported by Kaiser Permanente), compared to only 0.15% in Canada. “In Canada, it should be more widely adopted in the next 12 or 24 months,” Boyce predicted.