Why HIPAA Compliance Matters In Telehealth
While the world has dealt with the far reaching effects of COVID-19, the healthcare industry has had to deal with many unique challenges. The procedure to protect both patients and staff from possible exposure to virus’s is a tricky process, especially when in some locations hospitals have also been dealing with patient surges. Keeping up with scheduled visits and procedures is a challenge, and keeping patients and staff aware of what is going on around them is a challenge as well.
Telehealth Grew Exponentially Due To COVID
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has created a specific condition in which many physicians’ offices are finding themselves doing routine patient visits virtually. While the concept of telehealth appointments has been around for years, telemedicine has only recently become the new norm for many people. During the recent pandemic, the number of Medicare beneficiaries using telehealth services increased by 11,700%. Healthcare can’t stop, and neither can telemedicine. Doctors are using telehealth to protect both patients and doctors from the spread of C0VID-19. Doctors are able to check in with patients through a laptop or mobile device, which means that patients can keep their homes clean of any germs or pathogens.
When the first wave of the pandemic hit, healthcare providers were forced to find solutions quickly. They searched for telehealth solutions that could be used for two things: office visits and monitoring patients during an outbreak. Many grabbed the first solution they found.
While these options may work for a short time, many are not long-term solutions, because they are not HIPAA-compliant.
Why HIPAA Compliance Matters for Telehealth
HIPAA made it easy to use healthcare apps, but that is about to change. Now more than ever, healthcare providers must be sure that their apps are secure. The risks involved in continuing to use the same healthcare app are too great for patients and providers.
Telehealth isn’t going anywhere, so you better have a plan in place. Here are some reasons why HIPAA compliance is imperative for your business’s future.
1. The suspended HIPAA guidelines for telehealth will be reinstated.
The regulations are not gone for good. Although the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions discussed the future of telehealth in June, they didn’t make any decisions about whether certain restrictions will be lifted permanently or reinstated. Privacy policies will likely return. Get ahead of the game by adopting a solution you don’t have to change later.
2. Using an unencrypted, unsecured software will expose protected health information.
When it comes to protecting sensitive information, security is essential. If you don’t protect it, your patients will suffer. Sensitive information that has been compromised can be accessed by hackers, and your patients will feel the effects of this breach. If you make it easy for them to communicate through unsecured platforms like text messaging, you risk exposing them to security breaches and ID theft.
3. A secure telehealth solution protects more than just privacy.
Once you find an excellent HIPAA-compliant telemedicine solution, you can use it to check on patients in ways that don’t compromise their privacy. You can track the patients’ progress without exposing them to germs or disease. Some follow-up care can be conducted virtually, allowing patients to continue their recovery at home.
4. Use solutions that are built for healthcare.
In the healthcare industry, there are many tools that you can use to connect with people. However, not all of them were specifically designed for healthcare. Some solutions work for one-off issues, such as using a video platform for a routine appointment with a patient. However, they also present challenges when you try to adapt them into your workflows. Platforms that were designed specifically for healthcare have a natural fit into your workflows. They cover more than just one need too. These platforms can also be used to transmit patient information, making communication with your team easier. And they’re much more likely to be HIPAA compliant.
5. Using a robust, secure solution will help ensure quality of care.
A recent study shows that many physicians are not readily embracing telehealth. They say they’re worried about compensation, security, and privacy — the same issues we’ve been worrying about for years in the telehealth space. When you’re dealing with HIPAA, you need to be careful. A robust HIPAA-compliant telehealth solution can help your business reach far beyond the scope of telehealth.
HIPAA compliance matters and it is a serious matter. Do not take it lightly because these HIPAA fines will break your bank and may in result of your practice going out of business.