The sudden shift to telehealth has traditional telehealth vendors experiencing a booming demand for their telehealth platforms, generating significant increases in volume. The government has also responded by relaxing certain HIPAA regulations permitting physicians to use platforms such as FaceTime, Zoom, and Skype to perform patient video visits. However, this solution is not a permanent one.
What does this mean going forward? The American Medical Association and other organizations have been working to ensure patients have access to telehealth. These platforms are meant for communicating with patients at a time when they are most vulnerable. We should be asking, "Can we make this easier for patients and clinicians?" The fear is that they may be overengineering these platforms to the point where they are overcomplicated, and thus, not accomplishing this mission.
Following the pandemic, it is not likely telehealth will replace in-person care as the norm. New platforms and innovations may be designed to be HIPAA compliant to decrease some of the burdens on HIPAA-covered entities. Providers will continue to look at ways to create more access to fill the gaps identified during the pandemic, and platforms continue to emerge.
EXAMPLEOne such platform is NuCall, which was created for the visually impaired.
The expansion of telehealth will depend on a number of factors, including broadband access and coverage of services. One thing is clear: telehealth has opened the door for increased access and convenience for patients while maintaining continuity of care and preserving the provider-patient relationship.
For further information on IT and telehealth, visit:
U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Links
Authored by Cindy Ebner, MSN, RN, CPHRM, FASHRM and Tamika K. Williams, MSIT.CS, CISM, CISSP, CAP, SSCP, HCISPP, COBIT 5 Foundation/Implementation