Audio-Only Appointments – Are they HIPAA Compliant?

New guidance states that HIPAA does allow for audio-only telehealth, when requirements are met. 

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The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services recently provided guidance surrounding audio-only telemedicine. 

The new guidance states that certain measures need to be taken to protect patient healthcare information. 

These include: 

  • The physician must be in a private setting, 
  • Speakerphone should not be used, 
  • and other measures should be taken to protect privacy. 

The security safeguards don’t apply to phone calls, but if the appointment is conducted over an internet-based voice service, they do apply. 

HHS wanted to continue audio-only appointments after the pandemic to allow for expanded rural care and to reach those with disabilities. 

During the COVID-19 pandemic, telehealth expanded greatly and HHS made special exceptions so as not to bring certain enforcement actions. 

Many of these policies are expected to end in the near future. 

It is essential that your office is compliant with HIPAA, especially in regards to telehealth and providing patients with their records. These are areas that will be and are under great government scrutiny. 

To protect your office, make sure your HIPAA risk assessment is up to date and that your policies are current. Ensure that you have the necessary protections in place for any electronic protected health information (e-PHI). 

If you have any questions about HIPAA policies, enforcement or your office’s compliance, contact Rickard & Associates today!

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