As the use of telehealth continues to increase as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, a recent arrest in connection with an alleged $410 million healthcare fraud scheme serves as a cautionary tale of how fraudsters can abuse telehealth.
In the article “Will Telehealth Fraud Grow Amid the COVID-19 Crisis?” HealthCareInfoSecurity turned to Los Angeles counsel Jason G. Weiss for insight into recent telehealth fraud cases and whether schemes against the health care industry will continue to grow.
Weiss told the industry publication that he expects to see a rise in fraudulent behavior impacting telehealth and telemedicine. "Anytime you open a program of this importance in such a short period of time, you are opening the door to all types of fraud,” he said.
Weiss added, "COVID-19 was thrust upon us, and medical providers as well as law enforcement are all trying to adapt to this new virtual reality. With the creation of any new program in a rapidly condensed period of time, there will be some level of organized chaos involved, and cybercriminals will try and take advantage of it as was allegedly done here."
Until the expanded telehealth program is properly vetted and established rules are put into place, tested and documented, there is a far greater chance that cybercriminals will try to take advantage of the confusion, he said.
According to Weiss, he expects federal and state regulators will eventually provide the necessary guidance and regulations to guard against fraudulent use of telehealth to steal money, rather than provide valuable services.
"If there is one silver lining from the coronavirus, it is that it brought about the next generation of the healthcare evolution - telehealth," he says "The key to making telehealth really successful is to keep it safe and secure and to ensure that people feel safe using it."