On Friday March 13th, President Donald Trump stated he plans to sign an $8.3 billion emergency funding measure when it reaches his desk to help stem the ongoing coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) outbreak. There are many relief options provide in this bill and one option includes that the “U.S Secretary of Health and Human Services to waive the Medicare restrictions on providing telehealth services to seniors during this public health emergency”.[i]
According to the former CDC director, Dr. Tom Frieden, a cornovirus pandemic is inevitable. Drawing from CDC experts that have done extensive planning for an influenza pandemic, he goes on to identify eight things that we must do to prepare as we move from the initiation phase to the acceleration phase of the pandemic. Two things Dr. Frieden recommends include protecting health services and supporting social needs. [i] Leveraging telehealth tools will be a vital component to accomplishing these objectives during a coronavirus pandemic.
Practitioners that offer telehealth services generally agree that it is crucial that they choose technology, like VTConnect, that is HIPAA compliant. There is a peace of mind that comes from knowing that when the technology provider signs a Business Associates Agreement, the liability for HIPAA compliance shifts from the practitioner to the technology provider. But for many practitioners there is a false sense that this is enough to protect them from all legal issues regarding telehealth delivery, but this is simply not the case.
A recent survey of more than 1,000 leaders in healthcare, conducted by Definitive Healthcare, reported that telehealth was the #3 voted top trend in healthcare for 2019 (#1: consolidation; #2: consumerism).