COVID-19 Latest Updates and Resources

Our practice hasn’t had a telehealth offering in the past. Is it possible to get something up & running ASAP?

Effective March 17, 2020, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights provided notice that during the COVID-19 nationwide public health emergency, covered healthcare providers may use popular video chat applications to provide telehealth without risk that OCR might seek to impose a penalty for noncompliance with HIPAA Rules related to the good faith provision of telehealth.

Permitted applications include Apple FaceTime, Facebook Messenger video chat, Google Hangouts video, Skype, or Zoom.

Curi recommends using a HIPAA-compliant vendor, but these other video chat solutions may be an appropriate interim solution for practices to use until a HIPAA-compliant telemedicine solution can be implemented.

And on March 20, 2020 the Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the U.S Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued guidance on telehealth remote communications following its Notification of Enforcement Discretion during the COVID-19 nationwide public health emergency.

The new guidance is in the form of frequently asked questions (FAQs) and clarifies how OCR is applying the Notification to support the good faith provision of telehealth.  Some of the FAQs include:

  • What covered entities are included and excluded under the Notification?
  • Which parts of the HIPAA Rules are included in the Notification?
  • Does the Notification apply to violations of 42 CFR Part 2, the HHS regulation that protects the confidentiality of substance use disorder patient records?
  • When does the Notification expire?
  • Where can health care providers conduct telehealth?
  • What is a “non-public facing” remote communication product?

Please visit our FAQs and Resources on telehealth to further explore our guidance around this topic.

Here are some other resources to help you get started:

  • Some EMR vendors have “tele-med” options.
  • The National Consortium of Telehealth Resource Centers divides the U.S. into 12 telehealth resource regions. Their website includes links to webinars, forums with an ability to submit questions, and vendor selection toolkits. The two regions most relevant for our members are:

Mid-Atlantic Telehealth Resource Center

Phone: 434.270.5338

Region: Virginia, West Virginia, Kentucky, Maryland, New Jersey, Delaware, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Washington DC

Southeast Telehealth Resource Center

Phone: 888.738.7210

Region: Alabama, Georgia, South Carolina, Florida

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All Curi recommendations are based on current CDC criteria at the time of publication. CDC guidance for SARS-CoV-2 infection may, or may not, be adopted by state and local health departments to respond to rapidly changing local circumstances. Providers should always check with their local health department to see if the CDC’s guidance on any given topic has been modified (particularly if more restrictive) from the CDC’s recommended guidelines. Follow this link https://www.cdc.gov/publichealthgateway/healthdirectories/index.html for contact information to your state/local health department. If local recommendations vary from those of the CDC, and you are unsure what recommendations to follow, then it is safer to follow the more restrictive guidelines/recommendations.