HIPAA and Healthcare Compliance: How COVID-19 Is Changing the Healthcare System

On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared the coronavirus a pandemic. Since COVID-19 began spreading throughout the world, it has been wreaking havoc on several different sectors.

There have even been changes in the healthcare industry. Many people are questioning whether the movement to telehealth methods of seeing patients will cause a difference in the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). HIPAA is the law that protects all patients and their health information.

If you're curious as to how COVID-19 is shaping the healthcare industry, keep reading. We'll cover healthcare compliance and the changing face of medicine.

The Changing Face of Healthcare Compliance

Before COVID-19 struck national headlines, healthcare workers were tightly bound to the terms and conditions of HIPAA. Put into law in 1996, HIPAA is upheld to protect patient information against malicious attacks. What is HIPAA Certification?

If a healthcare provider sent a text with any details about a patient on it, they could face a lawsuit. If a health provider were to communicate any health information using technology, the patient would need to sign a lengthy document. Even then, there were limitations on what medical providers could communicate over technology like text, voicemail, email, and video.

Many of these healthcare communications were causing costly payments per each violation that was done.

After many healthcare providers moved to telehealth options for patient care following the announcement of a global pandemic, there were many concerns over patients' protected health information. Patients are right to have those concerns.

Because medical professionals aren't holding in-person medical exams, all communication is being done through technology. While this makes communication easier, it may cause issues with protecting private healthcare information.

The Department of Health and Human Services' Office for Civil Rights released a statement saying that physicians may use platforms that don't necessarily comply with HIPAA regulations completely. This statement covers physicians using these platforms while the COVID-19 pandemic is still happening.

The truth is that using these platforms can greatly impose on patients' right to privacy about their healthcare.

Navigating New Policies in Healthcare Compliance

Healthcare providers can hold onto patient privacy during the pandemic if they use the proper resources. If you're a medical worker, you should still continue to take HIPAA seriously despite the announcement that we discussed.

You should make sure that you're being clear with your patients about what they believe is and is not okay with sharing regarding their health. For example, you should allow your patients to opt-in or opt-out of certain programs. If you are sharing information, you should make sure that you're doing so through a trusted, HIPAA-compliant platform.

If you need to revisit the basics of HIPAA, we recommend doing so through our program.

Continuing After the Pandemic

Many experts are suggesting that the new telemedicine procedures could be the future of medicine. However, we do warn you (and medical professionals) about the dangers of telemedicine.

Telemedicine can be safe if done right under HIPAA rules. We strongly suggest that healthcare compliance be continually followed as patients and healthcare workers navigate a new era of medicine.

If your workplace needs a refresher on HIPAA and other healthcare rules, feel free to look through our courses.