Patient privacy: As with any patient encounter, the patient information exchanged during a telemedicine encounter is subject to protection under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and applicable state law. However, patient privacy is further complicated by the fact that telemedicine services are provided via electronic means. Prior to the engaging in telemedicine, providers must implement business associate and other confidentiality and privacy agreements with vendors and subcontractors. In addition, it’s important to test communication channels to ensure their security. Finally, the provider must educate its staff and administrators on the appropriate use of telemedicine technologies and the requirements under HIPAA and state law for using and disclosing patient information.
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Tips for Compliance
When considering engaging in telemedicine services, providers should engage legal counsel experienced in handling the regulatory issues associated with the provision of telemedicine services.
Ensuring that providers are properly licensed where the patient is located is the first step to compliance. Once licensure is confirmed, state law should be reviewed to confirm patient consent requirements and the scope of permissible telemedicine services and technologies.
Finally, it’s important to check with major insurance companies and the Medicaid program in the states in which services will be provided to confirm reimbursement policies.
Steven M. Harris, Esq., is a nationally recognized healthcare attorney and a member of the law firm McDonald Hopkins LLC. Contact him via email at [email protected].