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Will Algorithms and Apps Replace Physicians?

PRA Newsletter | First Quarter | Issue IX | January 29, 2020

As we usher in the new decade, we're taking a look at what will have the greatest impacts on healthcare including artificial intelligence, telemedicine, and increased claims severity. Read on to learn how these new developments will alter the healthcare field and learn how your practice can integrate and adapt to these changes. We're dedicated to keeping our physicians informed, be sure to follow us on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn to stay in-the-know.

Updated PRA Policy

Have You Moved or Changed Billing Contacts?

Please remember to update your team at Professional Risk Associates of any contact or address changes to ensure you receive all carrier invoices promptly.

Note cancellation notices are provided by your insurance carrier or finance company only, and not by Professional Risk Associates. Many carriers now offer several payment options including ACH or Credit Cards, so if you have any questions on how to pay your premium, please let us know how we can help.



The New House Call

House calls may be considered antiquated, but the integration of telemedicine is bringing healthcare back to the comfort of patients' homes. In the last several years, the use of telemedicine has dramatically increased with new and improved technologies.

Telemedicine can encompass a variety of tools that help physicians and patients communicate. These services could include; video chat consultations, mobile apps, telemetry medical devices, online patient portals, and more. These advancements will be vital in the modern medical practice as they can improve patient satisfaction and quality of care.

As this field continues to grow it will give providers new means to connect with and treat patients. Here are some of the biggest telemedicine trends we're anticipating in the coming years:

  1. Increased Remote Patient Monitoring

  2. Improved Accessibility with 5G Mobile Internet

  3. Increased Risk to Cybersecurity (Health IT Outcomes)

While there are many potential benefits for these cutting-edge services, it's also important to consider the new risks associated with them. See ProAssurance's guide on telemedicine and how to manage your risks for it here.

Healthcare artificial intelligence companies raised $4 billion in funding in 2019 and saw the greatest growth out of all US industries (Healthcare Dive).

This staggering increase in funding between 2018 and 2019 supports the assertion that AI will become even more prevalent in the healthcare industry. AI is revolutionizing the healthcare industry in nearly every aspect including, administrative duties, billing automation, and most interestingly diagnostic.

In a recent study of 29,000 women, Google's DeepMind Algorithm outperformed human radiologists when identifying abnormalities in mammograms. In the US there was a 5.7% reduction in false positives and a 9.4% reduction in false negatives. (CNBC)

This singular study showcases a bright future for AI in diagnostics, but there is still a great deal of research that must be conducted before widespread implementation. Some radiology societies across Europe, Canada, and the US have raised concerns about the use of AI and worry that an automated system could lead to increased risk of errors (Healthcare Dive).

Despite these reservations and the need for more testing, most physicians feel that these advancements in AI technology can help address diagnostic errors and therefore reduce malpractice claims. See The Doctors Company study on AI in medicine and how it may be integrated in the future here.


Claims Severity

Higher Payouts Lead to Higher Premiums

One of the greatest threats the medical professional liability market faces in 2020 is the higher insurance premiums bought on by increased claims severity. In 2019, over 25% of MPL premium rates increased. This marks the greatest rise in MPL premium rates since 2006. The hike in rates is indicative of a hardening MPL market after more than a decade of soft-market pricing (Medical Liability Monitor).

The rising premiums are brought on by increased claims severity. There are a few contributing factors causing this fluctuation in the market.

In the early 2000s, the MPL market benefited from improved patient safety efforts, tort reforms, and attorney selectiveness. At that time, hospitals created new risk management systems, mandatory checklists, and improved national standards. As safety efforts were revised, there was a decrease in claims frequency. The 2008 recession also contributed to this trend. Tort reforms and increased financial liability for law firms made it less enticing to file MPL cases.

However, with the strengthening economy, third-party funding companies have resurfaced allowing attorneys to offset some of the financial risks. This has renewed interest in pursuing MPL cases. Claim frequency is no longer declining at the rate it was in previous years. This is due in part to increased litigation but the effects of previous patient safety improvements have started to wear off. Since prioritizing patient safety has become the new standard, we're now seeing diminishing returns on the initiative. These two factors together will contribute not only to a rise in claims in the coming years, but also an increase in payouts (Risk & Insurance).

The final component leading to larger payouts is the increased frequency of "batch" claims. These claims involve multiple claimants taking action against a party regarding a single act of series of related acts that resulted in injury. These claims tend to be more costly because they cast a wider net and can trigger more coverage components including, general liability, directors and officers, errors and omissions, and more (Captive International).

While these new threats to your practice can seem daunting, your Professional Risk agent is available to help you navigate the changes in the market and mitigate your risks to avoid claims. Contact your agent today to speak with them about your current coverages.

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