Telehealth has seen a large increase during the recent COVID-19 pandemic. Many of our provider clients have reached out with their questions.
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If you have telehealth questions, let us know! Here are a few of the questions we’ve received so far:
Question 1: When will the Office of Civil Right’s telehealth discretion expire?
Answer 1: OCR does not have an expiration date set. It will issue a notice when it is no longer exercising its enforcement discretion. At that time, OCR will resume enforcement of the HIPAA Security Rule. Once this occurs, it is essential that your practice is compliant with all aspects of HIPAA, so that your patients don’t experience delays or gaps in care and so that your practice doesn’t receive fines or sanctions.
Question 2: How do you recommend handling patients that are under-prepared for their telehealth appointments?
Answer 2: Communication! We recommend our practices reach out to patients ahead of time to see what they will need to come fully prepared to appointments. This can be done through email questionnaires, phone calls and follow-ups. If you need to know your patient’s weight – do they have access to a scale? Or can they get one in time for their appointment? What about a way to measure their blood pressure? Work with your patients in advance so that your telehealth appointment will run smoothly. Communication can help to build trust and better your relationship with your patients, which is so important.
Question 3: What if your patients want to utilize telehealth, but are concerned about their privacy?
Answer 3: This concern is very valid. With rampant breaches and cyberattacks on healthcare organizations, protecting your patient healthcare information is essential. Make sure that your policies and procedures are up to date, your risk assessment has been updated if you have added any new technology, and you are aware of security vulnerabilities. Also, make sure to train your staff regularly, as phishing emails are a common tool used by hackers. If you have done all of the above, it will be easier to put your patients’ minds at ease.
Question 4: Will my patients expect me to continue telehealth following COVID-19?
Answer 4: It depends on many factors, some include: the nature of your practice, the proximity of your practice to your patients, patients’ access to technology, patients’ insurance coverage, and more. Some appointments may lend themselves to telehealth, while others require in-patient visits to provide adequate diagnoses, monitoring and care. Now is the time to evaluate how well telehealth is working for your practice and your patients. Are there steps you can take to improve access and appointments? Are your patients receptive to telehealth? Look at the pros and cons for your practice, and potential areas of improvement.
If you’re struggling to keep up with telehealth guidance or COVID-19 regulations, we’re here to help.
Let us know what questions you have or what has worked for your practice, in this ever-changing landscape.
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