Curago Health Blog

Telehealth via FaceTime during the Coronavirus outbreak? Possibly.

Mar 18, 2020 8:30:00 AM / by James Deck

The following is a message from Josh Klinge, the CEO Newportmed (www.newportmed.com):

During this difficult time for you and your staff we are trying to provide information to you as it is provided and validated. Since you all may be looking to provide remote services we wanted to email you this clarifying information that came from a lobbyist in Washington that works for the HBMA. He’s boots on the ground and close to CMS.

 

New Message:
It is correct that CMS has expanded the authorized telemedicine technology that can be used to engage in a Medicare billable telehealth visit to include some telephones.

However - not all phones.

CMS is authorizing the use of telephones that have audio and video capabilities for the furnishing of Medicare telehealth services

There must be a face-to-face video connection between the health professional and the patient in order for this to be a billable telehealth visit. Smart phones and computers with video capability (i.e. skype) are permissible telecommunication devices. A traditional voice-to-voice phone call, would NOT qualify as a billable Medicare visit.

Some state Medicaid programs and some commercial insurers have authorized voice only phone visits under their telehealth benefits but the Medicare expansion only includes smartphones or computers with a face-to-face video capability. Previously, these technologies were excluded as approved technologies because they were not deemed "HIPAA Compliant" as far as privacy was concerned. HHS is relaxing the HIPAA enforcement along with the expansion of the telehealth policy. The specific new - temporary - HIPAA enforcement policy is as follows:

"Effective immediately, the HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR) will exercise enforcement discretion and waive penalties for HIPAA violations against health care providers that serve patients in good faith through everyday communications technologies, such as FaceTime or Skype, during the COVID-19 nationwide public health emergency."

Please note, the technology used must be "non-public facing". Therefore, Facebook Live, Twitch, TikTok would not be acceptable to the Office of Civil Rights.

For more information on what technology is permissible, go to

https://www.hhs.gov/hipaa/for-professionals/special-topics/emergency-preparedness/index.html

Tags: Telehealth

James Deck

Written by James Deck

James Deck has been an innovator in the healthcare industry for nearly two decades specializing in patient engagement, AI, Pop Health, Value Based Care, cloud and managed IT services.