COVID-19 and HIPAA | Coronavirus and Privacy Rule

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By Bill Minahan   |   March 23, 2020   |   0 Comments


Coronavirus and HIPAA Privacy Rule: The HIPAA Privacy Rule protects health care patients from unauthorized uses or disclosures of patient identifiable information (PII).

covid19 coronavirus and HIPAA

The Privacy Rule is carefully designed to protect the privacy of sensitive health information while allowing important health care communications to occur.

However, on March 17, 2020, the HHS Office for Civil Rights announced it will waive potential HIPAA violations due to the coronavirus outbreak and the subsequent pressure on healthcare providers to do their jobs.

COVID-19 and HIPAA Privacy Rule Waived

HHC announced that it will waive potential HIPAA violations and penalties that are made in good faith during the COVID-19 pandemic. Covered health care providers can use everyday communication technologies to offer telehealth to patients responsibly.

Healthcare providers that want to use audio or video communication technology to provide services to patients during the COVID-19 public health emergency, will be able to do so by using any non-public facing remote communication technology.

Some examples of non-public facing communication technology are:

  • Skype for Business
  • Microsoft Teams
  • Updox
  • Zoom for Healthcare
  • Google G Suite Hangouts Meet

Some public-facing communication technologies that should NOT be used in the provision of telehealth include:

  • Facebook Live
  • Twitch
  • TikTok
  • Instagram Live

Covid-19 and HIPAA Telehealth Notification

A covered health care provider is still expected to act in good faith and exercise professional judgment. For instance, a healthcare provider could request to examine a patient exhibiting COVID-19 symptoms, using a non-public facing chat application.

This will allow healthcare providers to assess a greater number of patients without risking infection of other patients who would be at risk during an in-person consultation.

Likewise, with the COVID-19 HIPAA notification, a health care provider would be able to assess other medical cases such as a sprained ankle or psychological evaluation without having to expose said patient to the coronavirus.

If you have any questions regarding the COVID-19 HIPAA notification, then feel free to contact one of our experts.

Additionally, for more information on guidelines, you can download our free comprehensive HIPAA checklist.

HIPAA Checklist

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