The United States Department of Household Services has released updated guidelines and notice of non-enforcement of HIPAA guidelines regarding the use of telehealth to provide care to patients under the COVID-19 National Emergency.
We applaud this move by the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) to empower medical providers to use video communication platforms to provide healthcare in good faith. This is a critical time to get people care where they need it and lessen the burden for our healthcare systems.
Sometimes, it takes a crisis to drive prerogatives like this forward and we are excited about the opportunities it will bring to both patients and medical providers.
"We are empowering medical providers to serve patients wherever they are during this national public health emergency. We are especially concerned about reaching those most at risk, including older persons and persons with disabilities." – Roger Severino, OCR Director.
During the COVID-19 national emergency, which also constitutes a nationwide public health emergency, covered health care providers subject to the HIPAA Rules may seek to communicate with patients, and provide telehealth services, through remote communications technologies. Some of these technologies, and the manner in which they are used by HIPAA covered health care providers, may not fully comply with the requirements of the HIPAA Rules.
OCR will exercise its enforcement discretion and will not impose penalties for noncompliance with the regulatory requirements under the HIPAA Rules against covered health care providers in connection with the good faith provision of telehealth during the COVID-19 nationwide public health emergency.
Under the Notice, the OCR also calls out that these video platforms and similar ones that are public facing should NOT be used in the provision of telehealth covered by health care providers.
We feel this is the start of video chat having a major impact on how health care is delivered.
With several digital health clinics playing in role in all aspects of health care, we know telehealth will be pillar in all types of modern healthcare.
Although this is temporary,this will help providers provide a sense of relief that the CDC is aware that telemedicine can be an effective way of delivering health care.
We also love that they are calling out some of the most popular video chat platforms such as Apple Facetime,Facebook Live Messenger, Google Hangouts and Skype as we believe that one of the major hurdles of delivering health care video live chat with be the telemedicineplatform.
People’s expectations are sky high based on one-click connection’s that video applications like Apple’s Facetime, Facebook Messenger and Skype provide.
Allowing doctors and healthcare providers the ability to use these video applications during theCOVID-19 Pandemic makes total sense. Ideally, health care providers use it and begin to understand just how good these video applications can help them deliver a better patient experience.
We would like to see telemedicine play a significant role in both pre and post medical visits for patients. Just imagine, a quick follow up visit from your doctor easily done with via a video application that is just as easy as using Apple’s Facetime or Skype. Truly exciting.