Before the current crisis, telemedicine technology was already becoming a litigation target for a variety of reasons, primarily due to the growth of the wearables market.  WIT will explore the wearable market in a follow-up article, but we wanted to quickly highlight the impact of the COVID-19 crisis on the litigation outlook for telemedicine technology.  Both the usage and need for telemedicine solutions have seen immediate and explosive growth.  From your pediatrician conducting video visits to global monitoring of epidemiological data, current solutions are being pushed to their limits, and investors have turned their gaze on this space. Companies are rushing to take advantage of existing solutions and scrambling to reinvent themselves as “telemedicine technology.”  This term, telemedicine technology, has no singular meaning—it represents a platform on which any number of existing or next-generation technologies will reside.  Think of a near-field heart monitor with contactless charging that uses 5G connectivity to transmit data to remotely monitor and analyze a patient through an AI/machine learning-based system.  Not unlike a cellular phone or an ADAS-capable car, telemedicine technology is increasingly becoming a multi-vectored patent morass. 

Over the last few weeks, the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS) and numerous other private insurers have been rapidly expanding the list of approved telemedicine visits, not just telephonic but pushing a variety of app and video options.  As CMS and private insurers are pressed to allow more from remote medicine, they also drive technology choice.  For example, there are proposals to allow certain dermatology visits to be conducted through video with 4K resolution.  With that, enter the H.265 players and their standard-essential patents. 

The litigation picture is still developing but merits significant attention. WIT, through its streaming media, wireless communications, and other experts, will continue to monitor the impact of the current crisis on the future of litigation.

For more insights on IP-related issues facing the legal community, visit our Intellectual Property practice area.

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