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Relaxed HIPAA Enforcement Aids Telehealth’s Growth

On this blog, we alerted potential and existing clients beholden to HIPAA regulations of the Office for Civil Rights’ enforcement discretion and waiver of potential penalties for violations during the coronavirus pandemic, especially via telehealth.

Since then, the telehealth segment of the healthcare industry unsurprisingly has grown exponentially. The HIPAA waiver enabled many providers to leverage readily available technologies like Microsoft Teams to deliver telehealth for the first time instead of ramping up with HIPAA-compliant telehealth software.

Yes, the HIPAA waiver is temporary, but the U.S. Senate is looking at ways to sustain the telehealth momentum beyond the COVID-19 pandemic. Back in mid-June, Democratic and Republican senators signaled support for permanently removing restrictions to telehealth use by permanently removing HIPAA restrictions that have allowed doctors to treat their patients over a broad array of platforms like Microsoft Teams during the course of the pandemic.

Telehealth vendors, providers and patient advocates have been pushing for the Department of Health and Human Services to retain some, if not all, 31 federal policy changes. And it looks as if there is growing support for the ongoing digitization of healthcare delivery.

Some lawmakers are concerned about a decision from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to not enforce specific HIPAA requirements during coronavirus emergency, believing this created potential for fraud and abuse from hackers and businesses collecting and selling patient information without their knowledge. Vendors could be made to sign a business associate agreement including them under HIPAA protections, however.

Take the opportunity to bolster your regulatory compliance, especially with HIPAA as telehealth gains traction in the healthcare industry. Contact 2W Tech today to get started with your Cybersecurity Compliance Program and let our IT consultants do the work for you.

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