Does telemedicine reduce malpractice risk?

The conventional wisdom is that practicing medicine over the telephone exposes doctors to potentially more malpractice lawsuits.

But, is that really the case?

Blogging over at Better Health, physician Alan Dappen, who created an innovative primary care model, suggests not.

His practice, which is based on 24/7 physician availability by phone, solves most patients’ concerns half of the time. He was recently audited by his malpractice carrier, who found “a DECREASE in my premiums because we used telemedicine and EMR to treat patients so fast (often within 10 minutes of someone calling us we have their issue solved without the patient ever having to come in).”

It is true that communication problems are the root of a significant number of malpractice lawsuits, and perhaps, better physician availability may ameliorate many potential issues before they start.

But, the current payment model doesn’t pay for out-of-office patient encounters, like telephone calls and e-mail, so until that changes, don’t expect to be able to reach your doctor by phone just yet.

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