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Telemedicine and HIPAA 

Telemedicine and HIPAA  | Telemedicine & Telehealth | Scoop.it

The digital age has presented numerous benefits for a variety of economic sectors with the health industry among the biggest winners.

 

From faster communication between patients and health professionals to better service delivery, health organizations have seen improvements in a variety of daily operations. Sadly, the digital age is a double-edged sword, and as more health organizations use the latest technology, there is the looming threat of poor data security.

 

Threats such as the WannaCry ransomware attacks, which have wreaked havoc on the economy to date, are a constant reminder that data security should be a priority for organizations looking to leverage advancements in technology.

 

For instance, while telemedicine promises improved service delivery, it introduces a security complexity.

 

HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) regulations have been a cornerstone for setting and raising the security standards in healthcare, and telemedicine might actually make it easier for health organizations to remain compliant.

 

At the same time, a lot has to be done to improve the security loopholes presented by such technologies.

 

Here are how HIPAA and Telemedicine fit with each other and the things that need to be done for better data security.

The Constant Threat Of A Data Breach

Data collected by health organizations can be a gold mine for most threat actors. Some of the Protected Health Information (PHI) data include personal addresses, names, medical history, identification numbers, and even credit card numbers.

 

In the wrong hands, these data can be used for identity theft, for buying medical supplies fraudulently, or even holding health data at ransom as in the case of WannaCry attacks.

 

The sad truth is that ePHI will be at the disposal of threat actors unless the right security controls are put into place.

 

First, unless internal organization systems are strong enough, it can be easy for hackers to gain access to networks or even user accounts.

 

In some cases, they may only need to access a low-level user account before escalating their privileges. Second, when it comes to third party business stakeholders, failing to pick security-concerned partners will easily lead to data breaches.

 

Lastly, insider threats continue to be a risk. If access control isn’t a staple of a health organization’s security system, it can be easy for a disgruntled employee to offer this data out to threat actors.

 

All these are concerns that can be handled by HIPAA compliance, and embracing telemedicine with HIPAA compliance at the back of your mind is a step in the right direction.

How Telemedicine Has Revolutionized The Health Sector

In a nutshell, telemedicine has made the transfer of medical data at a distant quite easy. Diagnoses, medical history, lab tests, and prescriptions can be transferred more easily and cheaper than normal.

 

It also saves the costs of having to transfer patients from their homes to hospitals for diagnoses that could easily be done via video calls.

The HIPAA Rules That Affect Telemedicine

The HIPAA guidelines cover more than the patients and doctors communicating ePHI at a distance. It deals with the communications channels and any third party involved in the communication process. Ideally, for telemedicine to be compliant with HIPAA, the parties involved need to comply with these security rules:

  • Ensure that only the authorized parties gain access to ePHI
  • The channels of communication used to communicate ePHI at a distance ought to be secure enough to the standards of HIPAA.
  • There needs to be a system in place for monitoring the different communications containing ePHI to prevent the chances of accidental or malicious data breaches.

As long as physicians have effective safeguards in place for addressing access control, the first bullet point should be easy to comply with. As for the second point, insecure channels such as email, Skype, and SMS are eliminated from ever being used. Lastly, the onus is upon those in charge of the ePHI technology to ensure that there are systems in place that can help monitor communication and facilitate the deletion of unused data if the need arises. Both of the last points also look to address issues relating to where ePHI is stored.

Why Conventional Communication Channels Might Not Suffice

If the ePHI created by a physician (covered entity) is stored by a third party, the third-party and the covered entity have to sign a Business Associate Agreement (BAA).

 

The BAA ought to include details about the methods the third party will use to secure the data and procedures for auditing the data’s security in accordance with the HIPAA guidelines.

 

Since the copies of ePHI are bound to remain in the servers of conventional communication firms, such as Google, Verizon, and Skype, the covered entities ought to have a BAA with such bodies to remain compliant with HIPAA. Sadly, Verizon, Google, and Skype might not enter into such BAAs, meaning that the covered entities will remain liable for fines for any breaches that occur from the lack of HIPAA compliance by these third-party entities.

 

The covered entities, telemedicine providers, might also fail HIPAA audits.

Aligning Compliance And Telemedicine

The ideal messaging solution should be secure. It should also offer the same communication speed as Skype, SMS, or email, while also complying with the HIPAA security rule. This means that only authorized users should be allowed to access ePHI, the communication channel should be secure, and it should be fairly easy to monitor the activity on the channel.

 

The channels of communication should also be user-friendly enough for both patients and physicians to use during interactions.

 

Each authorized user can gain access to the channel through a centrally-issued username and password, which allows them to communicate with other users within the private communication network of the covered entity.

 

The channel should allow all types of communications, including images, documents, and videos. These media should be encrypted both while in transit and at rest. As for monitoring the communication, the messages should be monitored through a cloud-based platform to ensure secure messaging policies are adhered to according to HIPAA rules.

Telemedicine Makes HIPAA Compliance Easier

While this might seem hard to believe, telemedicine might actually make compliance to HIPAA easier for health entities. Unlike convention medical services that had to introduce HIPAA compliance as an afterthought, telemedicine can be crafted with HIPAA compliance at the center of it all.

 

As such, any applications and technologies used in the communication of ePHI at a distance can leverage the latest technological advancements and data security practices.

 

These can include multiple data encryption methodologies and even comprehensive system testing. Any partnerships with third-party vendors will also be based on whether they can have a sustainable BAA with them or not.

 

Telemedicine presents too big an opportunity to be ignored. Even better, the HIPAA guidelines can act as a baseline for security standards for health organizations looking to embrace telemedicine. Since it is easy to be compliant, keen organizations can enjoy its perks without fearing costly fines.

 
 

Via Technical Dr. Inc.
Dr. Gayathri Duraipandiayan's insight:

Telemedicine is one of the most useful useful healthcare tech available today. It has certainly proved to be a vital tool during the COVID-19 pandemic. But, there are few aspects that every provider must consider before launching a telemedicine practice https://bit.ly/2Z6owG4

Technical Dr. Inc.'s curator insight, February 20, 7:36 AM
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inquiry@technicaldr.com or 877-910-0004
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How Access to Telehealth Is Increasing Across the US During COVID-19 | Technology Networks

How Access to Telehealth Is Increasing Across the US During COVID-19 | Technology Networks | Telemedicine & Telehealth | Scoop.it
Telehealth has been a part of the medical field for several decades, but its use is markedly increasing with the advent of the COVID-19 outbreak. In this article, we look at how government regulations are relaxing at a federal and state level to make this new technology the norm.
Dr. Gayathri Duraipandiayan's insight:
Recognising its advantages, providers are aggressively implementing telemedicine during this pandemic. So here are some efficient ways a medical practice can start telemedicine, https://bit.ly/369rjzG
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Can Telemedicine Minimize the Risks and Dangers of CoViD-19?

Can Telemedicine Minimize the Risks and Dangers of CoViD-19? | Telemedicine & Telehealth | Scoop.it
Probably the biggest benefit of Telehealth innovations during the CoViD-19 pandemic is its capacity to minimize patient-medical provider physical interaction thereby minimizing the risks and dangers of spreading the disease...
Dr. Gayathri Duraipandiayan's insight:
During the COVID-19 pandemic, telemedicine has enabled doctors to provide safe healthcare access to their patients, https://bit.ly/2X8wk7r
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Why Telemedicine is the Future of the Healthcare Industry?

Why Telemedicine is the Future of the Healthcare Industry? | Telemedicine & Telehealth | Scoop.it
Why Telemedicine is the Future of the Healthcare Industry?



The coronavirus pandemic has overwhelmed hospitals, physicians and the medical community. That's pushed telemedicine into the hands of providers and patients as the first response for primary care. Telemedicine isn't new to the medical co

Via TechinBiz
Dr. Gayathri Duraipandiayan's insight:
Telemedicine is definitely propelling healthcare to the next level. It has helped hospitals and health systems function in a more streamlined manner. Right now due to the new relaxations and waivers imposed by the government, medical practices have been aggressively implementing telemedicine, but there is no guarantee that these waivers will be in place post pandemic. Here are few ways to ensure that a telemedicine practice can thrive even without the relaxations in place, https://bit.ly/2zUxrj1
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Is Telemedicine The Future of Health Care?

Is Telemedicine The Future of Health Care?



The coronavirus pandemic has overwhelmed hospitals, physicians and the medical community. That's pushed telemedicine into the hands of providers and patients as the first response for primary care. Telemedicine isn't new to the medical community, however

Via TechinBiz
Dr. Gayathri Duraipandiayan's insight:

Telemedicine is certainly the hottest commodity right now. Here is why telemedicine is so popular during the COVID-19 pandemic : https://bit.ly/2TfXl7F

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How Technology is Driving the Next Wave of Telemedicine

How Technology is Driving the Next Wave of Telemedicine | Telemedicine & Telehealth | Scoop.it

The growth in business cases for new models of healthcare delivery and integration of digital health technology is reaching the point of convergence — creating powerful synergies where there was once only data silos and skepticism.

 

We have not quite achieved this synergy yet, but opportunities emerging in 2015 will move the industry much closer to the long-awaited initiatives in connected, value-based care.

Individuals are constantly hyper-connected to a variety of technology networks and devices. Wearables will continue to enter the market, but their features and focus will go well beyond fitness. Even the devices entering the market now are more sophisticated than ever before. Some are now equipped with tools like muscle activity tracking, EEG, breath monitoring, and UV light measurement.

 

It will be fascinating to watch how consumer electronics, wearables, and clinical devices continue to merge and take new forms. Some particularly interesting examples will be in the categories of digital tattoos, implantable devices, and smart lenses.

 

As the adoption of wearables continues to grow, we will continue to see more value placed on accessing digital health data by healthcare and wellness organizations. This will be especially important as healthcare shifts towards value-based models of care. The need to gain access to the actionable data on connected devices will only grow as innovation creates more complex technologies in the market.

 

This is the year the promise of telehealth will be realized. It is projected that by 2018, 65 percent of interactions with health organizations will take place via mobile devices. Those statistics speak to the need of satisfying the growing demands being placed on providers, along with the growing discernment among patients when it comes to selecting affordable and convenient medical services. The continued adoption of telehealth will extend the point of care for providers and provide ubiquitous access to medical professionals for patients.

 

A number of entities are already putting this into practice: Walgreens, in partnership with MDLIVE, recently expanded their mobile platform to offer virtual doctors visits for acutely-ill patients; Google is testing a HIPAA-compliant medicine platform for video chats with doctors; and, digital urgent care solutions, like Doctor on Demand, are growing in popularity due to their convenience and low cost.

 

Telemedicine will not only extend the point of care, but will also be critical in better combatting chronic disease. Managing chronic health conditions will become the focus of many healthcare providers, as models of reimbursement and population health management (PHM) continue to replace fee-for-service models. One issue with chronic disease management is that it is difficult to monitor at-risk patients outside of the hospital. This is where telemedicine comes in.

 

Prescribed devices and applications to better handle chronic conditions will increase in pervasiveness. This idea of prescribing mobile health to better manage disease states translates to a host of chronic conditions – obesity, diabetes, heart disease, arthritis, cancer.

 

For example, our client UCSF uses devices like step trackers, sleep trackers, scales and blood pressure monitors to track patients at-risk for heart disease or cardiac readmissions. Another client, UNC is creating a Gastro-Intestinal tracking application (GI Buddy) that leverages fitness devices and scales to monitor Chron’s disease. There are thousands of studies pioneering innovations to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of healthcare. And, they are making serious strides.

 

The automatic transmission of pertinent patient data from these mobile health technologies is propelling forward capabilities for cost-effective, efficient and successful remote patient monitoring, population management and patient engagement programs.

However, as telehealth and telemedicine capabilities continue to develop, the major hurdle for most providers is integrating and the mobile health data collected outside of the hospital back into the clinical story for use in the provision of care. In a value-based healthcare system, the key to better outcomes lies in data, and specifically, obtaining access to data generated outside of the provider setting.

 

Platform services will continue to be vital partnerships as healthcare systems are expected to quickly execute on all these initiatives simultaneously and successfully. Bottom line:  The industry is transforming, and if you have not started talking about how to connect to those external data sources, then you need to start.

 

These emerging trends will continue to bind the landscapes of technology, healthcare, and business. The road set upon long ago by medical professionals and legislators is finally coming to fruition. The walls of interoperability are beginning to come down, investments are growing, partnerships are forming, and consumers are starting to take notice. We are moving towards a digital health revolution. We have the opportunity, the responsibility, and the honor, to align healthcare and technology innovation to exponentially improve our care system. It is a tall task, but we are off to a promising start.

 


Via Technical Dr. Inc.
Dr. Gayathri Duraipandiayan's insight:

Technology is definitely pushing healthcare into a more efficient era. Automation is one aspect of tech that has helped in managing the pandemic. Here's how : https://bit.ly/36aGY1F

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The Importance of HIPAA Compliance When Choosing Telemedicine Solutions 

The Importance of HIPAA Compliance When Choosing Telemedicine Solutions  | Telemedicine & Telehealth | Scoop.it

While the rise of telemedicine technologies is benefiting the health care industry, it may come with an intimidating effect. On one hand, health care professionals are able to provide better quality care more conveniently, improve patient outcomes and increase engagement. On the other hand, because they're sending, retrieving and analyzing privacy information via digital technology, there's a higher risk for data breach. That's what makes Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) compliance so important. HIPAA is a set of provisions designed to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of health insurance coverage by eliminated waste, fraud and abuse through health care delivery.

Let's take a closer look at what it means to be HIPAA-compliant and how telemedicine equipment distributors are prioritizing safety and security via telemedicine

Secure communications through telemedicine

Securing personal health information is more critical than ever before, because telemedicine systems make regularly assessing, discussing and sharing information a normal process nowadays. According to HIT Consultant, the Security Rule requires that technical safeguards are put into such systems to keep parties with unauthorized access out of private information. That's why discussing personal medical matters with physicians and caregivers via text and email may be frowned upon - these channels are not HIPAA compliant, which could encourage a data breach. Additionally, communication outlets such as Skype or FaceTime are also an issue - covered entities are required to have a Business Associate Agreement in order to be HIPAA compliant. Communicating through telemedicine, however, is safe because the information is sealed by the Security Rule.Ensure your telemedicine technology is HIPAA compliant.

Factors to consider when evaluating telemedicine technology

When evaluating potential telemedicine for your organization, make sure to consider the following factors:

  1. Access - Access to the communication of medical data should be restricted to a user database system. This can be self-contained or monitored through an external mechanism.
  2. Log user access - Ensure you can document user entry points to ensure HIPAA policies and procedures are being respected.
  3. Data in transit encryption - Data transferred between authenticated users must be fully secured.
  4. Data at rest encryption - Never permanently store data at rest within the platform - it should never be available outside of the

Via Technical Dr. Inc.
Dr. Gayathri Duraipandiayan's insight:

HIPAA compliance is extremely important. Right now there are relaxations which allow providers to use video chat based platforms like Skype & FaceTime as telemedicine platforms. But this wont be the case post pandemic. That is why providers need to consider certain crucial aspects before launching a telemedicine practice. https://bit.ly/2Z6owG4

Technical Dr. Inc.'s curator insight, March 23, 2018 2:33 AM
Contact Details :

inquiry@technicaldr.com or 877-910-0004
www.technicaldr.com

Rescooped by Dr. Gayathri Duraipandiayan from Technology in Business Today
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Telemedicine in the era of COVID-19

Telemedicine in the era of COVID-19 | Telemedicine & Telehealth | Scoop.it
Telemedicine in the era of COVID-19



Dr. Jay Portnoy discusses the use of Telemedicine to see patients in the era of COVID-19. Held on March 20, 2020.



Credit ACAAICOLA

Via TechinBiz
Dr. Gayathri Duraipandiayan's insight:

This is a great piece on how telemedicine is helping providers treat their patients during the COVID-19 pandemic. Telemedicine is currently all the rage right now, one of the contributing factors is the special relaxations put in place by the government. Find out more on how to establish a successful telemedicine practice here : https://bit.ly/2yMWYL8

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New Jersey Agencies Loosen Telemedicine/Telehealth Restrictions During COVID-19 Emergency | Chiesa Shahinian & Giantomasi PC - JDSupra

New Jersey Agencies Loosen Telemedicine/Telehealth Restrictions During COVID-19 Emergency | Chiesa Shahinian & Giantomasi PC - JDSupra | Telemedicine & Telehealth | Scoop.it
As a result of legislation New Jersey Governor Murphy signed into law last week (P.L.2020, c.3), various New Jersey agencies have temporarily loosened telemedicine/telehealth...
Dr. Gayathri Duraipandiayan's insight:
Right now, the government has relaxed its regulations to help physicians easily transition to telemedicine, however there is no guarantee that these relaxations will be in place post pandemic. So here are few ways to ensure that a telemedicine practice remains functioning and efficient post pandemic, https://bit.ly/2zUxrj1
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Telemedicine & Telehealth Emerge as Medical & Healthcare Marketing Opportunities during COVID

Telemedicine & Telehealth Emerge as Medical & Healthcare Marketing Opportunities during COVID | Telemedicine & Telehealth | Scoop.it
Telemedicine and Telehealth's adoption and prevalence, fast-tracked by Corona Virus/COVID, will create and require profound changes in how healthcare services are provided — while spawning new healthcare marketing opportunities and market realities.
Dr. Gayathri Duraipandiayan's insight:
During the COVID-19 pandemic, Telemedicine has proven to be an indispensable tool during the pandemic, https://bit.ly/2TfXl7F
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What are the Top Healthcare Industry Challenges in 2017?

What are the Top Healthcare Industry Challenges in 2017? | Telemedicine & Telehealth | Scoop.it

Healthcare Industry challenges are always going to be evolving alongside the breakthroughs and innovations. In 2017, there are new healthcare industry challenges that go alongside the age-old difficulties.

For doctors, nurses and medical teams, here are 7 of the key healthcare industry challenges they are currently facing in the year ahead for 2017.

1) Retail Care offering increased access

Retail giants like CVS and Walgreens are pushing further into care delivery, continuing to put pressure on traditional providers to increase access to care.

According to Laura Jacobs, writing for Hospitals and Health Networks “The greatest challenge for most organizations will be finding the right pace for adapting to or embracing new [healthcare] payment models.”

Doctors will be required to step up their efforts to optimize the patient experience, beyond measuring patient satisfaction.

2) Behavioral healthcare

The healthcare industry is starting to recognize that Mental Health is important to the well-being of employees and consumers, according to a report from PWC.

The report notes that one out of five American adults experiences a mental illness every year. These conditions cost businesses more than $440 billion each year. Healthcare organizations and employers will look at behavioral care as ‘key to keeping costs down, productivity up and consumers healthy’ the report said.


3) Meaningful Use and Value Based Payments

Eligible providers and eligible hospitals are continuing to work on meaningful use of EHRs.

Value-based purchasing programs are solidly in place, and eligible physicians are starting to experience the penalty phase of CMS’s quality reporting and Meaningful Use initiatives. In fact, CMS revealed that more than 257,000 eligible professional providers who are not meaningful users of certified EHR technology would have their Medicare Fee Schedule cut by one percent.

Eligible physicians also need to comply with CMS’s new Value-Based Payment Modifier program, or face penalties. It’s part of Medicare’s efforts to improve healthcare, but the program adds yet more regulations physicians need to monitor.

All these changes and new reporting requirements can become overwhelming for already busy physicians, which is why the American Medical Association has repeatedly asked for relief.


4) Switching to ICD-10

The much anticipated and maligned change to ICD10 codes in 2015 led to a lot of discomfort for physicians. The increase in codes from 14,000 to 68,000 means a lot of diagnosis criteria must be re-learned.

There is a great deal of planning, re-training and new systems that go along with the upgrade in codes. For doctors, finding the time to do this proved to be a huge challenge, and still is.

5) Data Security

Patient privacy issues, including concerns about data breaches, continue to be a challenge for providers, payers, and consumers.

Providers and payers will need to be aware of the best practices for data security to avoid the type of Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) violations that can negatively impact an organization.


6) Managing Patient volume

While new payment models will are aiming to reduce acute hospital utilization, the continued expansion of Medicaid and the insured population through the public exchanges will seemingly keep demand up.

The rise of obesity and chronic disease and population aging are creating a demand for medical services like never before.

Emergency departments will continue to be overworked until efforts to decant volume through urgent care, better care management or redesigned primary care models begins to take effect..


7) Implementing Telemedicine

The idea of a doctor seeing you via a computer screen may no longer be new, but the adoption of the Telemedicine services by doctors with their own patients is still a struggle.

The Information Technology and Innovation Foundation shares a vision of how Telemedicine can reduce patient backlogs. “Imagine a world where patients in rural areas far from a nearby doctor can easily find a health care provider to consult with online from the comfort of their own homes; where doctors living in Pennsylvania can help reduce the backlog of patients waiting to see doctors in Mississippi; and where patients can connect to a doctor over the Internet for routine medical purposes with a few clicks of the mouse—like they do when ordering a book on Amazon.”

Finding a balance between in person visits and telemedicine will require doctors to adjust their approach to care. Learning to diagnose remotely also requires new skills and detailed reporting.

Of course, Healthcare Industry Challenges are nothing new. Technology and legislation will continue to change the landscape. Doctors and their medical teams must evolve their approach and focus to meet them.

 


Via Technical Dr. Inc.
Dr. Gayathri Duraipandiayan's insight:
This article is still relevant today. We have made some headway with the telemedicine challenge. Right now during the COVID-19 pandemic, Telemedicine has seen an unprecedented demand, https://bit.ly/2TfXl7F
Technical Dr. Inc.'s curator insight, June 5, 2017 8:46 AM

Contact Details :
inquiry@technicaldr.com or 877-910-0004
www.technicaldr.com

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Cigna launches dental telehealth with Dental Virtual Care–including The TeleDentists | Telehealth and Telecare Aware

Cigna launches dental telehealth with Dental Virtual Care–including The TeleDentists | Telehealth and Telecare Aware | Telemedicine & Telehealth | Scoop.it
Telehealth and Telecare News since 2005...
Dr. Gayathri Duraipandiayan's insight:

Telemedicine is aggressively being implemented in all departments of medicine. Telehealth and telemedicine systems have significantly expanded during the pandemic due to its obvious demand & advantages. The relaxing of several regulations have also contributed to the aggressive implementation of the tech. But, there are certain aspects a provider must consider if they are to ensure that their telemedicine practice continues to thrive post pandemic https://bit.ly/2zHIZ9n

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5 Things to Do Before Adding Telemedicine to your Medical Clinic

5 Things to Do Before Adding Telemedicine to your Medical Clinic | Telemedicine & Telehealth | Scoop.it

As a Doctor, you are paid to have answers.

Answers to uncertainty, answers to pain, answers to how the future will turn out.

However one area where uncertainty looms large for Doctors is how they can get started seeing patients via remote telemedicine services.

The next 5 years are expected to see explosive growth of telemedicine both in use and public awareness. Yet, questions of effectiveness, compliance, and logistics plague each doctors decision to start using a telemedicine service.

Like a wise investor, many physicians have been watching from the sidelines, tracking the ups and downs, do’s-and-don’t’s of colleagues and experts for several years to find the best practice for incorporating telemedicine into their clinics.

If you are on the verge of incorporating telemedicine into your practice, here are 5 Things to Do Before Adding Telemedicine to your Clinic that will help ensure a steadier introduction, and long term success.

1) Know WHY you want to use Telemedicine

Before getting started, spend some time contemplating the change. If you have a desire to increase cash payments in your practice, telemedicine can help. It can also help you with schedule flexibility. And it will also help you keep up with the latest technology and services for your patients.

Decide first about what you’d like to achieve from adding a telemedicine service into your practice. This will ensure that it becomes a part of the practice smoothly, and with a purpose, rather than something you try a few times, and then give up on. Well begun is half done.

2) Set up your Team for Success with Telemedicine

One of the dangers of suddenly offering a telemedicine option in your practice is that the team feel threatened by the change.

Hold a meeting and give them a say in how the process will work, ask for their feedback on what could be a good initial system and best practice. Get clear on the process of billing and setting appointments in the schedule before starting to offer appointments.

Doing this preparation will ensure the team back you up, as you move to the virtual consultation model.

3) Set up your patients for success with Telemedicine

For doctors, a virtual visit has a lot in common with a face-to-face visit. The location and time frame is the same, and the process of diagnosis is similar. It is familiar territory.

However, for patients, it is an entirely new experience. The majority of the population is reasonably comfortable with using video chat functionality. It is your role to give them a sense of comfort and understanding that the process is simple and effective.

Providing some form of how-to guide for your patients can be very valuable. Give patients an overview of what to expect on the call. Let them know what the fee will be, how long the call will be, when you will call, etc.

All these small details will make the process much more comfortable for your patients, and make them more willing to try a Telemedicine visit with you.

4) Have clear Guidelines for what you’ll offer via Telemedicine

Telemedicine offers doctors huge flexibility. But there must be guidelines. Let patients know what you will offer, and what you wont. Patients may have specific conditions that still need face-to-face time, and it is at your discretion which of these diagnoses you can do via virtual visits.

Telemedicine can reduce or replace 70% of routine visits can be replaced. However that doesn’t mean you should outsource your entire day to virtual visits.

5) Start slow and grow with Telemedicine

Remember that you have been practicing successfully without telemedicine for many years, and although there is a huge upside to adding it to your practice, there is no need to dive in the deep end.

You might want to offer the service initially only to your most familiar patients, those managing chronic conditions, or those at a remote location. Treat your initial interactions as a learning opportunity, and learn how you can create effective results.

Remember that technology exists to connect people. The lure of the new can sometimes cloud the focus that you are still simply speaking to your patients, just in a new, more efficient way.

For Doctors, Telemedicine is exciting and scary at the same time. Starting slow, with a clear purpose, a prepared team and informed patients can do a lot to make the transition a successful one.


Via Technical Dr. Inc.
Dr. Gayathri Duraipandiayan's insight:

A great piece on the things providers must definitely consider before launching a telemedicine practice. Here is another great piece on the same topic https://bit.ly/2zHIZ9n

Technical Dr. Inc.'s curator insight, May 31, 2017 7:13 AM

Contact Details :
inquiry@technicaldr.com or 877-910-0004
www.technicaldr.com

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Telemedicine and HIPAA 

Telemedicine and HIPAA  | Telemedicine & Telehealth | Scoop.it

The digital age has presented numerous benefits for a variety of economic sectors with the health industry among the biggest winners.

 

From faster communication between patients and health professionals to better service delivery, health organizations have seen improvements in a variety of daily operations. Sadly, the digital age is a double-edged sword, and as more health organizations use the latest technology, there is the looming threat of poor data security.

 

Threats such as the WannaCry ransomware attacks, which have wreaked havoc on the economy to date, are a constant reminder that data security should be a priority for organizations looking to leverage advancements in technology.

 

For instance, while telemedicine promises improved service delivery, it introduces a security complexity.

 

HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) regulations have been a cornerstone for setting and raising the security standards in healthcare, and telemedicine might actually make it easier for health organizations to remain compliant.

 

At the same time, a lot has to be done to improve the security loopholes presented by such technologies.

 

Here are how HIPAA and Telemedicine fit with each other and the things that need to be done for better data security.

The Constant Threat Of A Data Breach

Data collected by health organizations can be a gold mine for most threat actors. Some of the Protected Health Information (PHI) data include personal addresses, names, medical history, identification numbers, and even credit card numbers.

 

In the wrong hands, these data can be used for identity theft, for buying medical supplies fraudulently, or even holding health data at ransom as in the case of WannaCry attacks.

 

The sad truth is that ePHI will be at the disposal of threat actors unless the right security controls are put into place.

 

First, unless internal organization systems are strong enough, it can be easy for hackers to gain access to networks or even user accounts.

 

In some cases, they may only need to access a low-level user account before escalating their privileges. Second, when it comes to third party business stakeholders, failing to pick security-concerned partners will easily lead to data breaches.

 

Lastly, insider threats continue to be a risk. If access control isn’t a staple of a health organization’s security system, it can be easy for a disgruntled employee to offer this data out to threat actors.

 

All these are concerns that can be handled by HIPAA compliance, and embracing telemedicine with HIPAA compliance at the back of your mind is a step in the right direction.

How Telemedicine Has Revolutionized The Health Sector

In a nutshell, telemedicine has made the transfer of medical data at a distant quite easy. Diagnoses, medical history, lab tests, and prescriptions can be transferred more easily and cheaper than normal.

 

It also saves the costs of having to transfer patients from their homes to hospitals for diagnoses that could easily be done via video calls.

The HIPAA Rules That Affect Telemedicine

The HIPAA guidelines cover more than the patients and doctors communicating ePHI at a distance. It deals with the communications channels and any third party involved in the communication process. Ideally, for telemedicine to be compliant with HIPAA, the parties involved need to comply with these security rules:

  • Ensure that only the authorized parties gain access to ePHI
  • The channels of communication used to communicate ePHI at a distance ought to be secure enough to the standards of HIPAA.
  • There needs to be a system in place for monitoring the different communications containing ePHI to prevent the chances of accidental or malicious data breaches.

As long as physicians have effective safeguards in place for addressing access control, the first bullet point should be easy to comply with. As for the second point, insecure channels such as email, Skype, and SMS are eliminated from ever being used. Lastly, the onus is upon those in charge of the ePHI technology to ensure that there are systems in place that can help monitor communication and facilitate the deletion of unused data if the need arises. Both of the last points also look to address issues relating to where ePHI is stored.

Why Conventional Communication Channels Might Not Suffice

If the ePHI created by a physician (covered entity) is stored by a third party, the third-party and the covered entity have to sign a Business Associate Agreement (BAA).

 

The BAA ought to include details about the methods the third party will use to secure the data and procedures for auditing the data’s security in accordance with the HIPAA guidelines.

 

Since the copies of ePHI are bound to remain in the servers of conventional communication firms, such as Google, Verizon, and Skype, the covered entities ought to have a BAA with such bodies to remain compliant with HIPAA. Sadly, Verizon, Google, and Skype might not enter into such BAAs, meaning that the covered entities will remain liable for fines for any breaches that occur from the lack of HIPAA compliance by these third-party entities.

 

The covered entities, telemedicine providers, might also fail HIPAA audits.

Aligning Compliance And Telemedicine

The ideal messaging solution should be secure. It should also offer the same communication speed as Skype, SMS, or email, while also complying with the HIPAA security rule. This means that only authorized users should be allowed to access ePHI, the communication channel should be secure, and it should be fairly easy to monitor the activity on the channel.

 

The channels of communication should also be user-friendly enough for both patients and physicians to use during interactions.

 

Each authorized user can gain access to the channel through a centrally-issued username and password, which allows them to communicate with other users within the private communication network of the covered entity.

 

The channel should allow all types of communications, including images, documents, and videos. These media should be encrypted both while in transit and at rest. As for monitoring the communication, the messages should be monitored through a cloud-based platform to ensure secure messaging policies are adhered to according to HIPAA rules.

Telemedicine Makes HIPAA Compliance Easier

While this might seem hard to believe, telemedicine might actually make compliance to HIPAA easier for health entities. Unlike convention medical services that had to introduce HIPAA compliance as an afterthought, telemedicine can be crafted with HIPAA compliance at the center of it all.

 

As such, any applications and technologies used in the communication of ePHI at a distance can leverage the latest technological advancements and data security practices.

 

These can include multiple data encryption methodologies and even comprehensive system testing. Any partnerships with third-party vendors will also be based on whether they can have a sustainable BAA with them or not.

 

Telemedicine presents too big an opportunity to be ignored. Even better, the HIPAA guidelines can act as a baseline for security standards for health organizations looking to embrace telemedicine. Since it is easy to be compliant, keen organizations can enjoy its perks without fearing costly fines.

 
 

Via Technical Dr. Inc.
Dr. Gayathri Duraipandiayan's insight:

Telemedicine is one of the most useful useful healthcare tech available today. It has certainly proved to be a vital tool during the COVID-19 pandemic. But, there are few aspects that every provider must consider before launching a telemedicine practice https://bit.ly/2Z6owG4

Technical Dr. Inc.'s curator insight, February 20, 7:36 AM
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