The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is a federal law that mandates the privacy of protected health information (PHI) for patients. It’s important for your IT support provider on Long Island to keep up with these changes. Here’s a brief look at how these requirements were adjusted for the pandemic.
1. Penalties Waived for Covered Hospitals
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) waived penalties for covered hospitals not meeting certain requirements regarding patient rights. This change went into effect on March 15, 2020. Some of the patient rights in question include the right to request privacy restrictions and the right to request confidential communications.
Other restrictions that have loosened during to pandemic crisis include obtaining the patient’s agreement prior to discussing treatment with family members. Another waived restriction involves honoring requests to not be listed in the hospital’s facility directory.
2. Business Associates May Be Allowed Good Faith Usage of PHIs
The HHS will not impose penalties for certain privacy requirements if a covered entity or business associate issues a “good faith use or disclosure” of PHI for research and health activities related to the pandemic. This change was designed to help organizations such as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and emergency operations that need access to COVID-19 data.
3. Good Faith Provision for Telehealth
Healthcare providers can avoid penalties associated with the good faith provision of telehealth services. The HHS states in its notification on enforcement discretion the agency will not penalize organizations for good faith usage of non-public facing audio and video communications involved with telehealth services.
Your IT services provider on Long Island should understand this change allows for your healthcare business to use platforms such as Zoom, Google Hangouts, Apple FaceTime, and Facebook Messenger video chat for remote treatment. Public facing apps, however, such as Twitch, TikTok, and Facebook Live is prohibited.
4. Good Faith Related to a COVID-19 Test Site
Another HIPAA restriction that’s been relaxed during the COVID-19 crisis that your IT support provider on Long Island should be aware of is the good faith use of a COVID-19 community-based testing site (CBTS). The site, however, must use reasonable safeguards such as assembling canopies to provide a degree of privacy while COVID-19 tests are administered.
Hospitals and other healthcare organizations face looser HIPAA restrictions during the pandemic, as announced by the HHS in 2020. For further details on the recent changes affecting patient privacy visit the HHS website. Contact us at Total Technology Solutions to learn more about having IT support for your healthcare business on Long Island.