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Health Law Quick Take: Telehealth in light of COVID-19 - March 18, 2020

Q: We are going to do much more of our work via telehealth processes.  Has OCR made any statement about how we can do that?


A: OCR issued new guidance on March 17, 2020 allowing broader use of various communication technologies for patient care during the pandemic. OCR states it “will waive potential penalties for HIPAA violations against health care providers that serve patients through everyday communications technologies during the COVID-19…emergency.” Examples given are Facetime and Skype when used in good faith for any treatment or diagnosis purpose, even if that purposes is not related to COVID-19.  This exception doesn’t apply just to COVID-19 treatment – it applies to the time period of the crisis.


Note that certain technologies are not covered under this exemption including Facebook Live, Twitch, TikTok, and other communication platforms which are “public facing.”  Also note that many trial period subscriptions to communication services will not be HIPAA compliant. 


HHS’s emergency preparedness page has further updates.




Quick Takes features client questions and answers from Iowa attorneys. If you have a question you’d like answered, email info@davisbrownlaw.com.


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