The day will come, hopefully soon, when this pandemic is behind us. When it is, will you be ready with a HIPAA-compliant telehealth platform?
The use of telehealth for senior health care visits has soared this year, from a low of just a fraction of one percent (0.1%) of Medicare primary visits in February of 2020 to almost half of all visits (43.5%) in April, just two months later. Safety is one obvious reason for this surge. But what made it even possible is that the federal government drastically reduced HIPAA restrictions on telehealth visits. Suddenly, anyone with Zoom could, and did, use it for health care visits, without worries about the repercussions of HIPAA data breaches.
The good news is that this effort to ensure access to health services has had the desired effect of helping seniors, who are especially at risk of the more serious effects of COVID, to shelter in place without sacrificing their health care. And, in fact, both patients and health care providers have seen the long-term benefits of moving many services to telehealth.
The bad news is that this relaxation of HIPAA enforcement won’t last forever. The Office of Civil Rights (OCR), which enforces HIPAA, issued the Notification of Enforcement Discretion for Telehealth Remote Communications During the COVID-19 Nationwide Public Health Emergency, which waives many HIPAA requirements for telehealth visits. Specifically, “Covered health care providers will not be subject to penalties for violations of the HIPAA Privacy, Security, and Breach Notification Rules that occur in the good faith provision of telehealth during the COVID-19 nationwide public health emergency,” according to the US Department of Health and Human Services (HSS).
The HIPAA waiver is set to last as long as the publicly declared National Health Emergency, which is currently set to expire in January, 2021. As long as the federal government continues to prioritize COVID as a national priority, and US Health Secretary Alexa Azar continues to extend the National Health Emergency, the HIPAA waiver will continue. It will not be forever, and it may even be for very much longer. And that’s why this question is so important. Are you ready?
The only way to continue using telehealth for visits in a post-COVID world is to start looking for a HIPAA-compliant solution, the sooner the better.
GrandCare is one such solution. It is a remote monitoring and communications platform for seniors. It’s a proven solution that has been on the market since 2005. GrandCare’s large, simple touch appliance and home health care program helps professional caregivers and families to have HIPAA-compliant video conferencing, send messages, and monitor a loved one’s health & safety. It’s been adopted by senior communities, home health care providers, healthcare payors, disability providers, and even individual families.
Find out more about GrandCare at www.grandcare.com or call us 262-338-6147