June 14, 2022

HHS issues new HIPPA guidance for audio-only telehealth services

By: Tarsilla Moura
Tags: ,

Editor's Note

On June 13, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) Office for Civil Rights (OCR) issued new guidance for HIPPA-covered healthcare providers and health plans to comply with privacy, security, and breach notification requirements when using remote communication technologies to provide “audio-only” telehealth services, the American Hospital Association (AHA) June 13 reports.

The guidance extends to after the COVID-19 public health emergency, AHA noted, highlighting that it “addresses questions that HHS has received about whether, and in what circumstances, audio-only telehealth is permissible under the HIPAA rules.

According to Becker’s Hospital Review June 14, since OCR notified providers in April 2020 that it “would not penalize entities for using non-public facing remote products to communicate with patients, even when the technology and its use do not fully comply with HIPAA rules,” OCR has used its discretion when enforcing HIPAA rules. The enforcement “only remains in effect until HHS declares the public health emergency over,” Becker’s noted.

Becker’s also highlighted the following about the new guidance:

  • It does not apply to audio-only telehealth services provided using a standard telephone line because the information transmitted is not electronic.
  • It applies when a covered entity uses electronic communication technologies, such as mobile devices that use electronic media like the internet and Wi-Fi.

For more information, read the full guidance released by HSS here.


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