What to Do About Inappropriate Conduct During Virtual Visits?

The Internet, as anyone who’s had the pleasure of using it more than likely knows, has its fair share of people who take advantage of the relative anonymity it can offer to engage in inappropriate behavior. And according to a recent CNBC article, health care providers are not immune from this conduct during virtual consultations with patients. As Healthcare IT News first reported, a number of providers working at companies that offer virtual visits have experienced “indecent exposure” from patients during consults. Or, as CNBC put it, “The doctors using these apps typically deal with colds and flus, but from time to time, something a lot more horrifying happens: Full frontal exposure.”

Per CNBC, some providers have even reported weekly incidents of this kind. Male patients, based on companies’ data, are more likely to expose themselves to physicians or otherwise act inappropriately, though they are just as likely to engage in indecent behavior with male providers as with female. Many take advantage of the free trials some virtual care companies offer prospective patients, often giving false information when they sign in. Also facilitating this kind of behavior: the quick, easy sign-up process.

What, then, can companies do to crack down on this kind of behavior—particularly as more and more patients seek out virtual care? (HIPAA and privacy issues, of course, also arise in situations like this.) Some are well prepared. “We have a systematic approach to managing it that in many ways is reflective of how doctors deal with problematic patients in traditional settings,” American Well CEO Roy Schoenberg told CNBC. Among these strategies: “shutting off the user’s login, and verifying the ID through credit card authorization,” thus preventing future usage. Others are discontinuing free trials of their services, and Doctor on Demand, for its part, is even trying to “connect [patients who behave inappropriately] to mental health support whenever possible.” With growing utilization, though, providers will probably have to continue to be creative when it comes to tackling challenging patients.

Click here for the article from Healthcare IT News about inappropriate conduct during virtual consults.

Click here for the CNBC article on virtual care companies dealing with inappropriate patient behavior.

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