Ask ECRI: Risks of a Remote Workforce

April 8, 2021 | Ambulatory Care Risk Management


A member asked us about the risks associated with a remote workforce in healthcare. In our response, we addressed general telehealth risks, cybersecurity and privacy, employment law issues, employee health and morale issues, and more. ​

For clinical personnel who provide healthcare services remotely, potential challenges with telehealth include a weaker patient-physician bond than with in-person visits; physician reluctance; patient reluctance; patient difficulty using the technology; potential for misdiagnosis; licensure and reimbursement challenges; and information technology (IT) issues, including cybersecurity concerns. See the guidance article Telemedicine for guidance on managing a wide array of risks related to telehealth. One challenge is that telehealth is not simply the provision of healthcare via an electronic medium; providers must cultivate an additional set of clinical skills to provide safe, high-quality telehealth services. ​

Healthcare organizations must deal with cybersecurity and privacy threats under normal circumstances, but challenges can be exacerbated when many employees work remotely. For example, employees may be more tempted to use their personal IT equipment (e.g., computer, laptop) for work purposes. Household members may be able to see screens or hear confidential information, or workers' home networks may lack important security features. ...

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