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Developing a Telehealth Risk Management Plan: From Creation to Implementation


Key Takeaways

Telehealth has existed for many years, but it’s only been recently, since the pandemic, that we’ve truly harnessed its potential to service everyone across the globe. In the US alone, telehealth services increased 63-fold for Medicare users during the pandemic. It’s evident that the power of digital solutions to help connect people is massive. Unfortunately, attackers have noticed this, too. The UnitedHealth attack made it clear that health data is extremely valuable, even selling for 20 times more than credit card information.

As the telehealth industry grows, so do its risks. Let’s explore how startup leaders in the industry can navigate the current threat landscape with a worthwhile telehealth risk management plan.

Understanding Today’s Telehealth Risks

In the digital world, risks go beyond data. However, it’s important to contextualize the aggressive cybersecurity landscape currently undergoing the industry — while 44 million people were affected by cyberattacks in 2022, this number rose to 106 million in 2023. These worrying statistics have placed data security as the top concern for healthcare providers, government officials and telehealth startup leaders.

Dealing with digital services also means service won’t be perfect 24/7, and there’s bound to be downtime. This additional risk can pose serious threats to people’s health, especially regarding critical practices like telemedicine and assets like wearables and electronic health records (EHR).

Another risk tied to downtime is misdiagnosis and delayed treatment, often stemming from faulty systems, devices and internet connection. While telehealth and in-person diagnoses increasingly match, startups must recognize that, as a fresh and still emerging technology, these situations are almost inevitable in the space, with industry leaders needing to prepare accordingly.

Foundations of a Telehealth Risk Management Plan

Telehealth’s 2024 market value is estimated at $120.5 billion, with a yearly growth rate of 23% for the next 10 years. In such a rapidly expanding industry, you can never be too careful about protecting assets and planning for the worst-case scenario. Establishing a risk management framework becomes essential, starting with identifying your company goals and potential obstacles on the journey there.

Would you like to launch a SaaS solution for healthcare providers? This would entail closely following HIPAA compliance and having robust cybersecurity. Are you looking to design a wearable diabetes monitor? This claims-intensive and manufacturing-heavy sector requires paying close attention to device defects.

But how do you identify these risks? Start from the general and get to the nitty-gritty as you go. Studying the industry helps uncover the current landscape and the most prominent trends — check for recent whitepapers, the news and industry publications to assess the risk context.

Risk mapping and simulation software are also great places to start when pinpointing what could go wrong.

Talking to experts and industry veterans is another great way to paint a complete picture. They either deal directly with other telehealth businesses or have a lifetime of good and not-so-good experiences to learn from. After studying all of these factors, startup leaders are well-equipped to prioritize risks based on their likelihood.

Components of a Telehealth Risk Management Plan

Once company priorities are set, it’s time to get hands-on with a strategy. Here are some elements to take into account when devising a telehealth risk management plan.

Insurance Policy Creation

Emerging companies should work closely with insurance teams to assess their risks. They blend their industry expertise and each business’ unique needs to build a functional insurance policy. Evolving regulations also call for healthcare companies to seek coverage as a compliance measure — something you won’t want to miss. 

In telehealth, some of the policies that cover the most prominent risks are general liability, Errors & Omissions (E&O), cyber liability, Directors & Officers (D&O) and employment practices liability (EPL). So, whether covering executives, employees, cyber-related risks or staying compliant, getting comprehensive insurance coverage is essential for a startup to pick up investor interest and client trust and garner long-term success. 

Risk Mitigation Strategies

Most telehealth startups deal with vast amounts of sensitive data. And, as cyber attacks have increased in the past two years, adopting strong security measures is a must for any telehealth startup. From endpoint encryption to employee cyber awareness training, data protection should be a top priority for leaders in the space. And, if recent cyber crime news isn’t enough, we’ve compiled over one hundred cybersecurity statistics to contextualize business owners on the cyber landscape — from cyber incidents to the most adopted best practices in the industry.

On the other hand, it’s important to develop standard operating procedures (SOPs) so company operations are clearly outlined. This is especially relevant in healthcare with aspects like patient safety and data management bringing about most of the operational risks. In clinical trials, for example, there must be a set of instructions to store records, collect data and screen and enroll subjects, among other things.

Intertwined with these procedures is vital paperwork like billing, reporting, consent forms, scheduling and other interoperable activities telehealth companies can’t go without. Centralizing these practices and properly communicating them from top to bottom will help keep risks at bay.


Implementing risk management strategies is all about involving every moving piece in a startup. A straightforward way to begin is setting up channels to discuss implementation and create accountability. This way, command chains are clear, and calls to action actually lead to results. Risk management plans are by no means perfect, so constant revising and refining — and communicating these changes — are necessary to maintain a relevant strategy.

Ensuring everyone is in on risk mitigation doesn’t happen overnight, so ongoing training and awareness programs are a worthy investment for employees to be in the loop about potential obstacles, ways to avoid them and how to act in case sticky situations arise.

Response and Recovery

Good planners are forward-thinking, so they know bad situations are inevitable. Outstanding response and recovery plans in case of malpractice, lawsuits, cybersecurity threats and whatever else may be thrown your way determine how well companies come back up after disaster hits.

Telehealth risk management plans must include the worst-case scenario and how each individual in the organization should act in its aftermath. What’s the best course of action? Perhaps setting up an urgent meeting, gathering information and setting expectations could do the job for many companies.

Ongoing Monitoring and Review

Being vigilant has always been a strategy to strengthen security — in telehealth, it’s a critical element of a risk management strategy. Risks never stop evolving, which highlights the importance of continuously monitoring industry technologies and operations to ensure your business is continuously on its path to success. 

Some tools like intrusion detection systems and endpoint protection software are cybersecurity measures that constantly help pinpoint rarities and vulnerabilities in the system. Adopting them and other measures gives startups the ability to stay in the know about growing cyber risks.

On the other hand, regular audits and assessments allow companies to see how proactive their current risk management strategies are. Understanding why insurance companies do audits can further highlight the importance of these evaluations. Internal and external reviews are effective in understanding areas that require improvement, providing valuable insight into what is working and where additional resources are needed.

Incorporating feedback from staff and patients by having conversations and rolling out surveys is also essential for refining services and risk management protocols. Creating channels for communication, whether openly or anonymously, allows companies to understand issues that exist internally and externally. Stakeholders can provide perspective as well from various angles in the operational and financial fronts.

Staying watchful enables organizations to address concerns sooner rather than later. Updating your telehealth risk management plan based on ongoing monitoring ensures strategies stay relevant by constantly reshaping them.


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Lessons Learned from Successes and Failures

Teladoc Health and Amwell are examples of telehealth providers with operations tailored around proactive risk management. Utilizing a mixture of advanced cybersecurity systems, data protection strategies and strong compliance measures has solidified their image with the public and stakeholders alike. 

But, we don’t always learn from successes alone — failure is a most valuable teacher, as well. Circling back to recent news, the cybersecurity attack that has plagued Change Healthcare, a technological solutions segment of UnitedHealthcare Group (UHG), is one such example of incidents we can learn from. The ransomware attack is being investigated by the Office of Civil Rights, having a detrimental nationwide impact, from halting and delaying payments and sharing of patient records to directly impacting the industry’s abilities to provide well-needed health care. 

The attack has even reignited the conversation about how recent advances in technology could erode patient privacy, and the level of importance cybersecurity needs to play in telehealth organizations.

Future Trends in Telehealth Risk Management

The value of telehealth technologies lies in their ability to provide more reliable and efficient healthcare. Their value far outweighs the risks when companies are well-prepared for what’s to come. So, organizations that use a combination of security tools, continuous risk assessments, and industry trends to adapt their strategy accordingly are the ones who will soar through. 

While the future of healthcare is dependent on entrepreneurs passionate about providing reliable and forward thinking telehealthcare, its growth and success is also measured by how well it can ward off risks. And future industry risks are directly tied to its innovations. As women’s health is placed front and center in telehealth, medical wearable usage grows and digital wards open up, emerging companies must pay special attention to securing these thriving products and services.

For example, cyber criminals can hack into wearable technology, which could pose serious risks to patients using monitoring devices for conditions such as diabetes. Likewise, women’s health has been neglected for decades, making it a research-intensive gamble if entrepreneurs wish to get it right. These are just a few of the incoming trends telehealth startups might face in 2024 and onwards as the industry expands.

But leaders in the space are not alone. The US Department of Health and Human Services has put forth tools like the Security Risk Assessment for HIPAA covered entities to check how cyber secure their practices are. And there are many more helpful articles, videos, and journals to help any-sized companies thrive in healthcare.

Additionally, insurance experts can become a startup’s right hand when it comes to protecting their assets. Scaling means sustainably growing your business on strong grounds — and we can help. The right insurance package means you’re getting the most bang out of your buck while knowing you’re getting robust coverage. Find out if your current insurance suits your company needs by taking our 360 Risk Assessment, where we’ll provide a real-time breakdown of your current risks and future insurance demands.

360 Risk Assessment

Understand how your insurance coverage & risk management measures up.

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