Malpractice insurer turns to digital health to reduce claims

By Jonah Comstock
09:41 am
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HealthLoopMIEC, an Oakland, California-based medical malpractice insurer, has teamed up with HealthLoop to turn the startup's mobile and web-based communication platform toward a new use-case: decreasing the number of malpractice claims brought against a doctor or hospital.

"It is well known that most litigation cases are not due to actual malpractice or 'bad surgeons,' but rather because patients felt that they were not treated fairly as individuals or they didn't understand the treatment recommendation," Dr. Wendy Levinson wrote in a JAMA study in 1997. "Patients tend not to sue doctors they like and with whom they feel rapport; they sue doctors who never took the effort to get to know them and understand their beliefs and desires or who treated them without respect."

With HealthLoop, MIEC will run a study to see to what degree increased doctor-patient communication via HealthLoop affects the number and cost of malpractice claims to a physician. According to Forbes, the study will be run with 60 orthopedic surgeons, a group that typically has a high number of malpractice claims. MIEC will give the surgeons access to HealthLoop tools to connect with their patients between visits, including automatically generated phone calls, emails or text messages. 

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"We are funding this study because we believe that HealthLoop will provide a pragmatic and practical mechanism to improve communication, enhance physician productivity and produce better outcomes… all of which will help us reduce malpractice costs to our members," MIEC President Andy Firth said in a statement. "With HealthLoop, we expect to see patient malpractice claims fall as patient satisfaction rises. It's the right balance to improve the doctor's efficiency while promoting better outcomes."

HealthLoop was started by Dr. Jordan Shlain and grew out of a belief that doctors need to take more initiative to follow up with patients, rather than relying on patients to follow up with them.

"How do you have visits between the visits to continue the narrative in a way that scales?” Shlain told MobiHealthNews in an interview last year. “Doctors can’t call their patients every day to see how they’re feeling. If I see 30 patients today and 30 tomorrow, that’s 60 phone calls I’m making to check in on the 60 patients I saw in the past two days. That just doesn’t work. Today, you can’t follow-up with patients in any meaningful way.”

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