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Telehealth is Here to Stay – So is HIPAA

The COVID-19 pandemic was a black swan for every industry – a rare occurrence no one was quite expecting or ready to handle. That was especially true for the healthcare industry, which has been forced to stretch resources and rethink how it operates as it is inundated with new patients daily. All the while HIPAA has lurked to ensure healthcare providers remain in compliance in this new reality.  

And although the coronavirus is of primary concern as the healthcare industry aims to contain and eradicate it, health issues that existed before anyone had heard of COVID still exist. And due to those preexisting conditions, the telehealth market has exploded in 2020.  

Nearly 50 percent of doctors now use telehealth, and analyst firm Frost & Sullivan predicts a 64.3 percent nationwide uptick in demand for telehealth this year due to the pandemic.  

With the rush to incorporate telehealth for providers typically operating strictly on a face-to-face basis, it would be easy to overlook HIPAA guidelines that have been loosened a tad but remain on the books. To avoid encountering non-compliance issues, make sure you vet your hosting provider. This ensures the security and compliance of the underlying infrastructure, of course, but you’ll need to check on the technology solutions and processes on top. That’s where a combination of your IT team and trusted vendors will be re responsible for patches, upgrades and specific solution-level protection. Be sure to review the matrix for current applicable vendor certifications like HIPAA so they have the right coverage.  

It’s also imperative to manage these certifications at the line-item level. For example, HIPAA compliance includes requirements needed to cover administrative, technical and physical safeguards that must be addressed. Get into the details of the various requirements of each area to determine how to appropriately address each one and who is responsible.  

It may sound like a lot of work to transition your healthcare practice from the physical realm to the virtual world, but the remote work will be here for the long term. It is best to get your telehealth options HIPAA compliant since telehealth definitely will outlast the pandemic.  

2W Tech has a Cybersecurity Compliance Program that is designed to support our Client’s compliance obligations. Most organizations must abide by and maintain a standard for controls that safeguard the confidentiality and privacy of information stored and processed. We work hand in hand with you to learn more about your required compliances, help obtain proper agreements, and access relevant system architecture information. Give us a call today to get started on your journey to achieving compliance. 

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