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Telehealth NewsShould practitioners use the free web-based conferencing systems for patient care?

Should practitioners use the free web-based conferencing systems for patient care?

May 14, 2014

The American Psychological Association (APA) has just answered a question I get asked a lot: Should practitioners use the free web-based conferencing systems for patient care? The folks asking the question are generally referring to Microsoft’s Skype or Apples FaceTime products. They’re interesting programs because they are free, easily accessible and offer pretty good quality for the conversation, but are they ‘up to snuff’ when it comes to patient care?

I watched a webinar from our friends at the Center for Telehealth and e-Health Law (CTeL) a while back, and their presenter said that these products weren’t really up to the security standards imposed by the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Now the APA has weighed in with a similar caveat.

Web-based platforms, they say, don’t meet HIPAA requirements in a couple areas. First, for auditing who has access and second, breach notification, in case the data are compromised. While both products appear to be encrypted, another HIPAA need, they don’t offer the full suite of required security features, it appears.

Click here for the full report My bottom line recommendation to partners who ask if these technologies are HIPAA-compatible is to check with their compliance officer, who should know HIPAA backwards and forwards. If you are a one-person shop, then it’s a good idea to take a look at information like the APA has shared to be sure you’re in compliance.

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