Telehealth During COVID-19


Sarah Badahman, CHPSE, Founder/CEO, HIPAAtrek

Bethany Baty, Digital Marketing Director, HIPAAtrek

Margaret Scavotto, JD, CHC, President, MPA

On March 17, the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) issued a Notification of Enforcement Discretion for Telehealth Remote Communications during the COVID-19 Nationwide Public Health Emergency. In this Notification, the OCR announced that it will NOT impose HIPAA penalties against covered health care providers using telehealth, in good faith, during COVID-19.

Who is covered by this guidance?

The guidance applies to all covered health care providers.

What programs can providers use for telehealth?

The OCR expressly stated that the following NON-PUBLIC FACING applications may be used for telehealth during COVID-19:

  • FaceTime
  • Facebook Messenger video chat
  • Google Hangouts video
  • Skype

What CAN’T be used for telehealth?

Providers CANNOT use PUBLIC-FACING applications such as Facebook Live, Twitch, and TikTok.

What else do providers need to do?

  • Notify patients of privacy risks.
  • Enable encryption and privacy modes.
  • Get a business associate agreement (BAA) from any service providers involved, whenever possible.

The OCR also compiled a list of FAQ related to telehealth use during COVID-19.

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