Before COVID, there weren’t many healthcare providers that offered telemedicine services. But as the need arose, many practices quickly adopted telemedicine as their new norm, and the HHS shifted to a policy of “discretionary enforcement” actions against providers offering telehealth in good faith. However, to ensure the sustainability of your telepractice, the tools you use, and how you use those tools, you would do well to learn — and only offer HIPAA compliant telemedicine. To provide guidance, HIPAA-compliant telemedicine is discussed in more detail below.
Tips for HIPAA Compliant Telemedicine
When making the transition to a remote environment, many providers had to act quickly and, therefore, did not have the opportunity to create sustainable telemedicine practices. The following are considerations that are necessary to ensure that your telemedicine practice is HIPAA compliant.
- Use trusted vendors. When choosing which software platforms to use, it is best to use one designed with healthcare in mind. While the HHS temporarily paused their enforcement efforts surrounding the use of non-public facing telecommunication platforms, for long-term HIPAA compliant telemedicine, providers must use HIPAA compliant tools. For a software provider to be HIPAA compliant, they must have security measures to secure protected health information (PHI) and be willing to sign a business associate agreement (BAA).
- Secure data. Data security is a key component. Security measures must include safeguards to ensure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of PHI.
- Control access to data. Part of HIPAA compliance is limiting PHI access to the minimum necessary required to complete a job function. As such, HIPAA compliant tools must allow users to designate different levels of access to PHI through the use of unique login credentials.
- Track data use and disclosure. To ensure adherence to the minimum necessary standard and facilitate early detection of breaches, PHI access must be tracked for each user. HIPAA compliant tools for telemedicine allow users to keep audit logs that distinguish PHI access on a per user basis.
- Train staff. As software compliance ultimately comes down to how it is used, it is important to train staff on the proper use of the software before they are permitted to use it.
For more information related to telemedicine practice, read about HIPAA Security Measures: Managing Risk in Your Practice and HIPAA Compliant Email for Therapists.
Find out more about the HIPAA Seal of Compliance® and Compliancy Group.