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Telehealth Medicine Offers Risks as Well as Benefits
Healthcare providers and other covered entities relying on new telehealth medicine technologies in light of COVID-19’s impact should take care they don’t inadvertently become victims to hackers or other forms of fraud.
Recent attacks on video conference technologies make clear that there are risks to conducting telehealth medicine under quarantine. For instance, Zoom video conference participants across the country have recently reported interruptions and new vulnerabilities to third-party hackers.
Providers who have had to rely on the increased practice of telehealth medicine are cautioned to ensure their video communication vendor offers a service that is both safe and secure. Providers should also have HIPAA-compliant business associate agreement (BAAs) in place for the provision of video communication or other telehealth medicine products.
Several vendors, such as Skype for Business, Zoom for Healthcare, Google G Suite Hangouts, and Doxy.me, represent themselves as HIPAA compliant, but the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) has not reviewed any BAAs offered by these companies nor has it endorsed, certified, or otherwise recommended any specific technology for the practice of telehealth medicine.
OCR has announced, however, that it will not impose penalties on covered entities for the lack of BAAs with video communication vendors or any other noncompliance with the HIPAA Rules that relates to the “good faith provision of telehealth services” during this national public health emergency.
Regardless, these regulations remain in constant flux and change on a daily basis. Healthcare providers are encouraged to consult with an attorney before engaging in any of these services to ensure their compliance with the law.
Contact Caplan & Earnest With Questions
If you have questions about laws or regulations governing telehealth, please contact Meghan Pound or Sheryl Bridges in Caplan & Earnest’s Health Law practice. Our attorneys continue to closely follow these developments, as well as many others related to changing laws, regulations and rules relating to the COVID-19 pandemic.