What are the new telehealth rules?

This week, the Administration broadened telehealth coverage and eased HIPAA regulations for the duration of the COVID-19 pandemic.

What changed with the new telehealth rules?

-Sanctions and penalties were waived under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), which restricts where and how a patient’s health information can be shared.  The result:  Doctors and nurse practitioners can now use smartphones to communicate with their patients, which was not the case before.

-All 62 million Medicare patients can now receive telehealth services.  Telehealth can be provided in nursing homes, hospital outpatient departments, and the patient’s own home.

-The Office of Civil Rights has stated it will not impose penalties under HIPAA rules if health care providers are providing care in good faith.  Providers must use reasonable safeguards to protect patient information.

-Doctors and nurse practitioners can use Facetime or private chat apps, but cannot use public facing webcams (such as Facebook, TikTok, etc).

These steps will be important so that patients who need routine medical care  or have questions on their medical or behavioral health management do not have to venture outside of their home.

How can you access telehealth?  If you need to see a health care provider, call your doctor’s office to set up an appointment.  You can also call your insurance company to find out the coverage you have for telehealth and what services are available to you.


Young man using smart phone

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