Question: Due to COVID-19 social distancing concerns, I'd like to expand into telehealth. What privacy issues should I consider?
Posted in Risk Management on Monday, November 30, 2020
Many chiropractors are transitioning some of their practices to video conferencing platforms, such as Zoom, to offer products and services at a safe distance.
One major obstacle in making this transition is overcoming the privacy risks associated with telehealth. Under HIPAA, health care providers must have a business associate’s agreement (BAA) with any third party.
In addition to signing a BAA, third parties must have several safeguards in place. They must outline how patients’ protected health information (PHI) will be completely protected. The third party must also describe the “uses and disclosures of the protected health information by the business associate.”
Maintaining HIPAA Compliance
To maintain HIPAA compliance, consider one of the following telehealth tools available to chiropractors:
- Zoom applies mandatory account settings to health care customers’ accounts, which nearly eliminates a customer’s ability to transmit PHI to Zoom. In other words, Zoom does not have access to PHI. Zoom also protects patients’ privacy by encrypting all audio, video and screen-sharing data.
- Webex is another video conferencing platform that allows you to connect with your patients while complying with HIPAA. Like Zoom, you can use Webex to share your computer screen or mobile device to show patients resources or to transmit PHI. This platform also lets you host group sessions and webinars.
- OhMD focuses on two-way patient communication (e.g., texting) to replace telephone calls with a more efficient process. You can have a two-way text conversation with a patient and can even launch a video chat. There’s no app to download; it’s a natural continuation of a HIPAA-compliant conversation.
- Doxy.me allows you to send an invitation to a patient by text or email. The patient opens the link on their mobile device or computer and joins the secure video call.
The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the health care industry in innumerable ways. And while it’s too soon to predict the comprehensive impact the pandemic will have on DCs, it’s clear that telehealth is here to stay. As a result, now is the time to consider this option for your practice.
Source: Robert G Silverman, DC, a clinical nutritionist, national/international speaker and author of the Amazon number one bestseller, Inside-out health. His new book, Superhighway to health, is expected to be published in early 2021.