Telemedicine – The Technological Step towards Easily Accessible Healthcare

The Healthcare industry is shifting to more value based considerations as an approach to generate additional income, cut expenses and improve on patient satisfaction. Telemedicine could be leading the way forward. One of the most significant changes to healthcare in the recent decade, telemedicine is encountering rapid developments and deployment across a variety of applications.

The speedy appropriation of telemedicine in the market is fueled by powerful economic, social, and political forces — in particular, the rising need for more easily accessible and affordable care. These reasons are forcing health care providers to develop and adapt their business strategies to the new health care marketplace.

Intuitive Audio-Visual Technology (IAVT) such as Skype for Business has developed in use in healthcare. This new method of communication has rapidly turned into a feasible alternative to in-person office visits for various patient groups. This virtual exchange creates data containing electronic patient health information or E-PHI.  For anybody participating in Telehealth, the real challenge is whether you can use an IAVT, for example, Skype for Business and remain HIPAA compliant.

While Telehealth is great for its convenience, taking into account long distance communication, and Skype for Business is particularly handy in view of its easy to access platform and user friendly functionality with features like multi-conferencing where anyone can join-in regardless of their location. Nevertheless, the inline exchange of patient data has numerous difficulties. Before using Skype for Business for Telehealth, any person or entity involved in handling of private patient data, like healthcare providers or even in an ancillary way like a business partner or a vendor ( software or app manufacturer) that handles protected health information (PHI), should be prepared and take steps towards HIPAA compliance. Any breach in this security can bring about strict legal action with appropriate step towards educating the individual whose privacy has been violated. Additionally, it becomes necessary for respondents to report the breach to numerous federal, state and local authorities.

Having a strong Compliance Solution set up, allows providers to set guidelines, using ‘Ethical Wall’, that prevent video, voice, screens, chats or IM from being shared publicly. Another element of an inclusive compliance solution takes into consideration the inclusion of a “chaperone”— maybe the compliance officer—that must affirm all videos exchanged in the public domain and will take a call on when and with whom it is fitting to share. The compliance solution can guarantee outsiders have restricted or no access to the Telehealth session, additionally, can ensure that recorded sessions of E-PHI are stored safely.

For more on standards for getting paid by Medicare or insurers for telehealth without inviting legal liability, join expert speaker Wayne J. Miller, Esq.in this Live Conference titled Telehealth: Avoid Liability and Regulatory Traps! on Thu, May 19, 2016. This session is a must for hospitals and other medical groups who are considering or have moved into Telehealth, which is the next big opportunity in healthcare. The audio session will address some important issues for telehealth providers such as cross border care, HIPAA compliance and violations, kickbacks and inappropriate prescribing.

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