If telemedicine is web-based, how does it remain HIPAA compliant? One common worry by physicians looking to move into the telehealth industry is how they can ensure they won’t violate the act.
As clinicians given access to Patient Health Information, or PHI, it is important to our patients that this information remain confidential. For that reason, the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) has become an industry standard. This is the case for anyone who comes in contact with this sensitive information.
Think about the popularity of video chat today. There’s Facetime, Skype, and an abundance of conferencing software available online. Why couldn’t they all be used for virtual patient visits? After all, they’re free.
Unfortunately, there are some regulations with regard to HIPAA and ePHI, or electronic Patient Health Information.
Will the telehealth software I work with be HIPAA compliant?
For a video conferencing software to be HIPAA compliant, training and compliance must be in-depth. It must go further than simply ensuring the software won’t leak any information. For any software company boasting their ability to host telehealth visits, they must not only ensure compliance of their software, but also of every employee working for them. Therefore, every physician, every patient, and every staff member that comes in contact with the software must ensure they are compliant.
The key to securing any transferred information is to ensure the information is encrypted. And free software online doesn’t have encryption services. Therefore, ePHI cannot be transferred through these sites – it’s physically possible, but not legal. And getting hit with penalties for noncompliance would take away the profitability telemedicine offers.
It’s all about the patients
Patient care is the reason you became a physician, isn’t it? You wanted to help patients however possible. Granted, you weren’t a computer engineer worrying about encryption codes and probably never thought you’d have a face-to-face patient visit over the Internet. But in the end, with telehealth, you’re able to help a larger number of patients while giving them the option of being evaluated from their living room.
And let’s not forget: you can be in your living room as well.
The mindset of patients will vary with regard to video chats. We see this when it comes to their mindsets on patient portal. Some will be open to it and others will begrudgingly stick to what they know best: office visits. If you’re adopting a hybrid strategy at your office, this could be exactly what you’re looking for.
In the end, you’re simply providing a more convenient solution for those patients who are open to it: those mothers who dread dragging their children out to the car in the cold; the elderly patients who would need to block 3 hours out of their day for a simple follow-up appointment; the business professional who has to be on a meeting while in your waiting room. You’re allowing them to get the peace of mind a doctor’s evaluation can give without having to alter their everyday lives to get it.
Want more comfort?
Making sure your practice is HIPAA compliant is important to every provider. Telehealth is a growing field and is now in this perfect stage. A majority of the kinks have been worked out and those getting into it are still reaping the rewards of being an early investor.
Interested in learning how to make guaranteed money taking telemedicine appointments? Join us on one of our retreats and let us inform you while on vacation.