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White Paper

The Future of Digital Health

Casualty|Future of Work
COVID 19 Coronavirus

By Kirsten Beasley and Doris Fischer-Sanchez | February 17, 2021

Innovations in digital health are reshaping how healthcare is accessed and provided, introducing a new risk landscape for healthcare providers to navigate.

The COVID-19 pandemic has propelled digital health onto the global stage, as healthcare providers around the world seek to leverage technology to help combat the crisis.

This, in combination, with worldwide trends towards the digitization of medicine, has resulted in rapid technological adoption and accelerating digital health transformations.

This digital health (r)evolution will profoundly and permanently reshape how healthcare is accessed and provided; a metamorphosis that is likely to produce novel and unexpected risks and consequent liability.

Digital transformation in healthcare

The global pandemic has served to escalate the ‘eHealth conversation’ within the healthcare property and casualty (P&C) community as insurance carriers, brokers and our clients grapple with real-time liability and insurance implications of the rapid escalation in digital health deployment, adoption and investment.

We have already seen evidence that the convergence of technology and healthcare can produce both economic and bodily harms.

We have already seen evidence that the convergence of technology and healthcare can produce both economic and bodily harms.”

Kirsten Beasley | Willis Towers Watson

What is digital health?

The convergence of healthcare and technology is not a new phenomenon; consider the introduction of computers into the healthcare system in the 1960s, the launch of the da Vinci robotic surgical system in 2000 and increasingly sophisticated CT scan systems.

Yet, digital health innovation is a distinguishable technological transformative force that also encapsulates profound cultural shifts and an altogether new way of working within healthcare.

As the next frontier of technological advancement in healthcare, there are great expectations about digital health’s positive disruptive potential.

The digital health ecosystem

The digital health ecosystem encompasses a myriad of technologies and concepts.

Highlighted below are some of the digital health segments and is by no means exhaustive:

The digital health ecosystem encompasses a myriad of technologies and concepts.

Here are some of the digital health segments and is by no means exhaustive:

  • Interconnected domains such as social media, Internet of Things, Software as a Service and Data as a Service.
  • Health information systems, such as electronic health records and patient portals, electronic prescribing systems, picture archiving and communication systems, laboratory information systems and patient administration systems.
  • mHealth such as wearables and implantables.
  • Telehealth such as telemonitoring: COPD, diabetes, remote consultation and remote education and support.
  • Artificial intelligence such as predictive modelling and analytics.
  • Related fields such as 3D printing, genomic and direct to consumer genetic testing and precision medicine.

Often there are not clear lines between these categories within digital health, as the technologies often overlap and have interdependencies.

Challenges faced by the digital health industry

There are substantial challenges that the digital health industry faces that must be considered within any insurance and liability analysis:

  • Regulatory and legal frameworks that cannot keep pace within innovation, adoption and use.
  • Consumer concerns about security and privacy.
  • Ethical questions that inevitably arise in the adoption and use of new technologies, especially regarding the role of commercialism and monetization.
  • Interoperability issues and fragmented systems –both technical (software, platforms etc.) and ‘system structure’ (e.g. disparate providers, payors and regulators of healthcare).
  • Competing motivations and misalignments – payor, provider and patient (what are the priorities and how can they be agreed upon).
  • Equity issues that can especially arise from swift digital implementations – e.g. digital literacy issues, digital access issues (‘digital divide’) and the impact on vulnerable groups (e.g. seniors – the ‘grey divide’).
  • Usability issues for patients and providers alike.

Risk exposures

There are a multiplicity of activities, entities and thus corresponding exposures and harms that can arise in digital health contexts:

  1. Providers using, developing or implementing digital health technologies to facilitate patient interactions (diagnosis, treatment, monitoring and management).
  2. Digital health platform hosts, developers and designers (software, applications, hardware), especially those that facilitate or provide patient diagnosis treatment, monitoring and management.
  3. Product manufacturers, distributors, developing digital health technologies (both regulated and unregulated).

Digital health exposures therefore require coverage for

Bodily injury and economic loss
Bodily injury and economic loss
Regulated and unregulated products
Regulated and unregulated products
Products and services often provided in cooperation with or at the direction of medical professionals
Products and services often provided in cooperation with or at the direction of medical professionals

Digital health insurance considerations

In any emerging and rapidly growing field it is important to remain attentive to shifting liability and insurance conditions.

In any emerging and rapidly growing field it is important to remain attentive to shifting liability and insurance conditions.”

Kirsten Beasley
Willis Towers Watson

Digital health advancements are catalyzing deployment of novel delivery and operational models that may in turn produce unforeseen perils and new flows of liability.

Digital health exposures can arise through the provision of technological products and services to patients, providers, payors and a variety of other stakeholders, both within and outside of clinical settings.

There are an extremely wide variety of digital health products and services that are increasingly being utilized in new settings and in new ways.

In such a rapidly evolving field with limited regulatory guidance and little to no legal precedent, how can risk managers and insurance professionals determine what type of insurance coverage they need?

Download our whitepaper: The Future of Digital Health to find out more.

In this whitepaper we also cover how regional insurance markets are responding to these emerging risks.

Authors

Head of Healthcare Broking, North America

Clinical and Enterprise Risk Management Leader

Source

1 Pagliari C, Sloan D, Gregor P, Sullivan F, Detmer D, Kahan JP, et al. What Is eHealth (4): A Scoping Exercise to Map the Field. J Med Internet Res. 2005;7(1):e9.

https://rke.abertay.ac.uk/en/publications/what-is-ehealth-4-a-scoping-exercise-to-map-the-field

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