March 2020 marked the release of the 21st Century Cures Act: Interoperability, Information Blocking, and the ONC Health IT Certification Program Final Rule by the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS). This has been a five-year process and a promise for improvement and progress in the United States health care system.
In December 2016, the Office of the National Coordinator for Health IT (ONC’s) Cures Act was signed into law by Congress and has been under revision so that the newly issued Final Rule supports modern-day technology. The Cures Act is designed to accelerate medical product development, information innovation and advancements in access to patient information. A goal of the Cures Act is to establish the means by which the market takes the lead and drives development – to not wait on legislation and regulations in order to make improvements.
H.R. 6074 (“Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2020”) is an $8.3 billion COVID-19 funding package that was signed into law on March 6, 2020, to address issues that arise during the coronavirus public health emergency. H.R.6074 includes a provision to temporarily lift restrictions and implement the wider use of telehealth services by Medicare beneficiaries.
Ray Barrett interviewed Kelly Koch from Compliancy Group. In this informative conversation, Ray and Kelly delve into the steps required by healthcare providers to remain compliant with HIPAA law when working with third-party vendors. Kelly was able to help dispel much of the confusion surrounding this important topic and layout some clear “does and don’ts” when it comes to HIPAA and working with other organizations.
Telehealth is changing the way that patients can access health care, but when new technology meets decades-old federal regulation, tensions will necessarily arise.
When it comes to the intersection between telehealth and HIPAA regulation, there are many common misconceptions about how to run a telehealth practice while maintaining compliance with federal privacy and security standards.
Before we dive into some of the particularities of HIPAA as they apply to telehealth professionals, let's look at some of the basics of HIPAA regulation.
In early 2019, the Georgia Senate passed two bills addressing telehealth and telemedicine. Both bills address comprehensive healthcare reform in order to reduce costs, increase access, and enhance quality care for Georgia residents. Since 2006, the state of Georgia has addressed telehealth parity law, and continued to address the need and coordination of telehealth care. The most recent bills (Senate Bill 115 and Senate Bill 118) continue to demonstrate how Georgia legislature has updated and revised existing laws.
The Interstate Medical Licensure Compact (IMLC) allows physicians from 43 different Medical and Osteopathic boards to practice medicine across state lines. Interstate compacts exist so that governing agencies from different states or jurisdictions are able to define an agreement which allows for members of their respective regions to operate under a mutual set of regulations.
The Nursing Licensure Compact (NLC) allows nurses to have one license to practice in multiple states. An interstate compact allows multiple states to join together and uniformly address common issues and establish guidelines that cross state boundaries to maintain regularity between governing agencies.
The Psychological Interjurisdictional Compact (PSYPACT) was approved in 2015 by the Association of State and Provincial Psychology Board (ASPPB – the alliance of psychology boards in US and Canada). By definition, a compact is an interstate agreement allowing states to enact legislation and enter a contract for a specific, limited purpose or to address a particular policy issue. One of the greatest advantages to any interstate compact is establishing a solution that uniformly addresses multi-state issues.
The Florida legislature has passed Chapter 2019-137, Laws of Florida. Signed into law by the governor and effective July 1, 2019, Chapter 2019-137 clarifies the definitions for health care providers who use or plan on using telehealth services in Florida, as well as the steps needed to provide ethical, legal and competent services within the state. The full text of Chapter 2019-137 can be downloaded on the home page http://www.flhealthsource.gov/telehealth/.
It is now mandatory for practitioners who are licensed out-of-state and do NOT hold an additional Florida license to be registered with the state in order to perform telehealth services for patients located in Florida. (Licensed Florida providers are already allowed to practice telehealth with patients they would be able to see face-to-face.)
Louisiana's LPC Board of Examiners has enacted their Teletherapy Guidelines for Licensees, which requires telemental health training prior to licensees providing teletherapy. The new regulation is clear, helpful, and resonable to comply with.