I went Live on Facebook last Friday to answer a few questions that providers continue to have. I have had so many responses and follow-up questions to last Friday's Live session, and I thought it would be beneficial to post the Live video and reiterate the helpful content. (Please note that the Live recording lags for just the first 20 seconds of the video.)
Recently, during my Functional Lawyer Membership Office Hours, I was talking to a provider who wanted to register her telemedicine practice in Florida-- because Florida allows for out-of-state practitioners to do so, as long as they have a license in good standing in another state. (If you need more information about this, you can go to www.functionallawyer.com/florida , and there is a step-by-step guide for you.) The provider I was helping had a good question, and one that often comes up: "What about insurance?"
The ins and outs of insurance are not always obvious to providers. That's understandable! You already have so much on your plate and many details to track. However, it's important to consider that if you do expand into another state, you need to check with your malpractice insurance first. You want to make sure that they will cover you for seeing patients in the state in which you will be practicing telemedicine.
However, before you even get there, you need to make sure that your malpractice policy covers telemedicine in the state(s) in which you are already licensed. These days, it would seem like it's a given, but that is not always the case.
Insurance, like law and like medicine, oftentimes follows precedent--or, what was done before. In the insurance world, they do not like "unknowns" as you can imagine. They don't like to insure something if they haven't already done the research and all the math to make sure a move is profitable for them.
So, you are just going to want to double check that your particular provider covers you in all the areas you wish to work. Take the time to make sure you are covered for telemedicine in your own state, and also see if there is anything you have to do to get coverage to practice telemedicine in another state.
As a follow-up to the question of insurance, many often ask about risk-tolerance. Of course, you would never start a practice without considering malpractice insurance, but it may surprise you to know that many people aren't so thorough here. You may be tempted to use your friend's cousin's roommate's doctor's legal document or patient agreement, but will this stand, legally?
While some are willing to take this risk, I would advise otherwise and be certain that you are covered by being more thorough. I have heard (and seen) some horror stories where practitioners did not make sure their malpractice insurance was in good standing. You've probably heard some yourself.
If you are going to be using things you write yourself or documents you borrow from others, especially if you are venturing into new areas of medicine, be sure to assess your risk tolerance. If someone were to really inspect your materials, would they pass muster? Or, could they be putting you at risk?
Let me give you a personal example here of the importance of seeking the advice of a professional rather than winging things yourself. When I first got out of college, I did my own taxes. They were simple enough, and I'm pretty good at figuring things out. It was worth the risk for me at the time. Well, fast forward to the IRS billing me, fresh out of school, for thousands of dollars because of a small mistake I made on the form. If I would have sought the advice of a professional, they would have quickly spotted my error, and I wouldn't have had to deal with the hassle of trying to get my form corrected and trying to get out what could have been a tremendous financial burden.
Now I am older and wiser and call my CPA for any tax-related questions, especially now that I am a business owner. For your practice, I would advise the same. Tax questions? Consult a CPA. Insurance questions? Contact an insurance agent. Legal questions? Ask an attorney. Doing so eliminates the risk and could help you avoid potential trouble.
The take-away here is this:
If you have any questions regarding insurance, risk tolerance, telemedicine, or more, don't hesitate to contact me any time.