Telemedicine Toolkit

Health and Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR): Telehealth and HIPPA during COVID-19 Pandemic
  • Telehealth services may be provided, for example, through audio, text messaging, or video communication technology, including video conferencing software
    • Provider should be in a private setting, ordinarily in clinic or office (but does not mandate these locations)
  • Up to provider discretion as to what can reasonably be covered by telehealth 
  • Covered health care providers will not be subject to penalties under HIPAA that occur during good faith provision of telehealth during COVID-19
    • Good faith: attempting to provide the most timely and accessible care possible
    • Currently no expiration date; will be announced at a later date
  • Examples of “bad faith”: 
    • Criminal acts: fraud, identity theft, intentional invasion of privacy
    • Sale of patient data 
    • Ethical violations
    • Use of public-facing remote communications such as: TikTok, Facebook Live, Twitch, or public chat room. These provide wide or indiscriminate access to the communications
  • HHS advocates the use of non-public facing platforms that employ end-to-end encryption
    • Only an individual and person to whom the individual is communicating to see what is transmitted
    • Support individual user accounts, logins, and passcodes to limit access and verify participants 
  • Examples of non-public facing products (although none specifically endorsed by OCR):
  • Providers encouraged to notify patients that these third-party applications potentially introduce privacy risks, and providers should enable all available encryption and privacy modes when using such applications 

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