According to a new report put out by US Health and Human Services, virtual patient interaction climbed as much as 51 percent in the first six months of 2020. As more health care providers look to expand their services to include videoconferencing, it also opens up the question of HIPAA compliance issues.
There are a variety of videoconferencing platforms available for healthcare providers to use. Some of the top include:
- Zoom for Healthcare
- SimplePractice Telehealth
- RingCentral for Healthcare
HIPAA law is designed to protect the privacy of all personal health information. Simultaneously, it provides specific rules to allow health care providers and other operations the ability to access data to do their jobs effectively.
Telemedicine allows providers to meet with patients virtually using videoconferencing platforms. At any point during a consultation, it can include an exchange of health information, which must be protected under HIPAA law. To keep data safe, the videoconferencing platform must ensure that unauthorized third parties cannot listen in or record at any time. It must also ensure that any session that is recorded is identified and stored in a secure space. If text chats, screen share, or file transfer is a part of the service, it must be secured as well.
Before the pandemic, virtual health was consistently growing, albeit at a slow pace. Both medical professionals and their patients were easing into technology, finding a place for it in modern medicine. COVID changed all of that.
In order to respond to the growing needs of dealing with a pandemic, US Health and Human Services waived penalties associated with HIPAA compliance. That gave health facilities the chance to react quickly to changing times, without worrying about being held accountable for errors. As long as providers acted in good faith and worked at creating as secure an environment as possible, they didn’t have to worry about penalties and fines.
The problem now is teleconferencing applications jumped on the bandwagon, opening up videoconferencing capabilities in the medical industry to help out, but did so at such breakneck speeds, they might not meet the original rules. Platforms grew with new HIPAA standards, and may need time to backtrack and catch up.
We’re living in a new frontier. We may not go back to the way things were, but eventually, new rules will catch up, making compliance front and center once again.
Growth is two-fold. It’s important to ensure your technology is working for you and your patients. It’s equally important to secure your platform and data from potential hackers.
Ensuring patients’ personal health information is secure is paramount in developing a robust and efficient healthcare system. Whether it’s using Zoom, GoToMeeting, or some yet undiscovered telemedicine platform, making sure you’re at the forefront of this new frontier will guarantee you a place in our new virtual world.
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