Expanded health care coverage for digital health services and the general growth in the consumer market for medically-oriented digital products. Seen as a catalyst for improving health outcomes, digital advancements are sought after by clinics and providers alike to facilitate better health. With this new frontier of digital integration in becoming a reality in medicine, will there be a rise in liability issues with medical services and products?
There are already many digital consumer health products that do things such as help count steps and monitor sleep habits, as well as products with more serious medical purposes such as blood sugar and blood pressure monitoring. As more of these instrument measurements become integrated with patients’ health records, a faulty medical product could cause misdiagnosis or the prescription of a wrong medicine.
A paper from the American Bar notes the possibility that health care providers could be held liable for malpractice for patient harm due to reliance on data from digital health technology sources. One of the central questions will be if the physician used sound judgment in the process of integrating interactive and data collection technology into patient treatment.
The Kentucky Connection
Very recently, the Kentucky Legislature passed SB 112, which mandates parity in coverage for telehealth coverage. The bill, which will become effective in July of 2019, will likely mean that many rural state residents will have a majority of their future encounters with healthcare providers over an interactive video connection, email or texting.
While this law will provide unprecedented access to Kentucky citizens that live far from health care facilities or find it hard to travel from their homes, critics worry that the lack of an in-person element will mean that more mistakes will happen. More errors will undoubtedly raise the incidence of medical malpractice claims in the state.
As the capability of new technologies broadens, so does the definition of what constitutes appropriate medical care. The digital health trend is worth watching for both advancements in medicine and in the practice of law.