HIPAA Compliance for Telehealth


July 30, 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic has, for the time being, redefined how the world operates. With billions of people around the globe under strict “stay-at-home” orders, modern life has come to seem archaic. With millions of American businesses have been put on hold, while the nation attempts to slow the spread of the virus. Due to the high contagion rate of the respiratory illness, and the lack of clear effective treatment, the healthcare system has been flooded with hospitalizations for COVID-19 patients. 

This influx in needed care has strained the resources of the healthcare system. Hospitals and clinics are unable to care for both pandemic sufferers and individuals with non-COVID related illnesses in the same manner. This has caused telehealth to take a front-seat approach within the healthcare market. Telehealth has long been expected to play a large role in how healthcare is delivered in the future, but its mass deployment has been expedited due to this sudden public health crisis. 

So as more telehealth services are being used to see and treat non-COVID patients, HIPAA compliance regulations have been relaxed in order to meet the needs of both provider and patient. However, once the virus is contained and the healthcare system can return to normal workload and operations, then normal HIPAA compliance guidelines will resume for telehealth services. This underscores the importance for institutions using telehealth technology to have a long-term plan in place for when these regulations are reinstated. 

Why Telehealth Services Are Here To Stay 

Many experts and scholars predict that life after this pandemic will never return to its previous self. From how we interact in public to how we go about our daily work habits. In a digital age where much of business is already done online, telecommuting has steadily grown over the years in popularity and productivity. Businesses are moving away from centralized office spaces and encouraging remote working. For many businesses, this pandemic has either spurred this transition to full-time telecommunication or further cemented the decision that it was the right one. 

Therefore, as more Americans begin to handle their daily lives inside the home, it is fair to expect healthcare to follow as the next aspect of “at-home” integration. Many Americans have grown accustomed to staying home and conducting their life’s needs in a virtual manner --, especially with younger generations. With a large portion of healthcare cases being non-life threatening and seasonal, many doctor visits can be handled via smartphone or computer. The accessibility and flexibility associated with telehealth are both appealing and health-conscious. More widespread use of telehealthcare could lead to lower rates of disease spread and a better patient-retention rate. 

These points illustrate that the time for telehealth is not just now, but also moving forward. 

A HIPAA Compliant Solution For Telehealth Services 

In order to keep telehealth services up and running past the COVID-19 pandemic, health institutions need to deliver their care via a HIPAA compliant telehealth platform. The telecommunication platform, Zoom, has received a lot of publicity during this crisis, and have positioned itself as a telehealth solution. 

However, Zoom and other “business conferencing” platforms are not specifically designed for healthcare demand and information sensitivity. These platforms lack HIPAA certification because they are not an Electronic Health Records (EHR) program. Once HIPAA compliance regulations return to their original state, using a platform like Zoom will no longer be feasible. 

Therefore, institutions must invest in a telehealth platform that is suited to adhere by all HIPAA codes and regulations. QliqSOFT’s Virtual Visits provides healthcare institutions with a system that is secure, reliable, easy to use, and most of all -- HIPAA compliant. The platform is built with true end-to-end 2048 data bit encryption, and never stores any PHI (Protected Health Information) on the cloud. This ensures health care institutions regain 100 percent control over their own data. The usability for patients has also been simplified to allow them to focus on the care they are seeking. Instead of needing to download apps or programs, patients join a secure video patient room via a secure URL sent by SMS text. 

Additionally, Virtual Visits is a long-term telehealth solution that is able to be deployed for your healthcare institution in a matter of hours, not days or weeks. Seamless integration with your internal system via HL7 / FHIR / API makes the jump a quick transition. 

Use Virtual Visits As Your HIPAA Compliant Telehealth Platform  

As the world leader in HIPAA compliant solutions and telehealth technology, we can help ensure your organization meets all mandate requirements and patient care needs. Contact us today at (866) 295-0451 about a free demo, or how to start implementing our technology at your health company!

The Author
Ben Henson

A lifelong communicator, this Tennessee native got his start in broadcast news before branching out into public media, corporate, communications, digital advertising, and integrated marketing. Prior to joining QliqSOFT as the company's first marketing team member, Ben shared his talents with organizations that include the University of Alabama, iHeartMedia, and The Kroger Company.

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