(RxWiki News) Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, many doctors' office are offering telehealth appointments. And this development may bring up some tricky questions for patients.
During the COVID-19 national emergency, many health care providers are seeing and communicating with patients through telehealth services. Technologies used include video conferencing, text messages and phone calls. But some of these technologies — and the manner in which they are used — may not fully meet HIPAA requirements.
As the use of telehealth increases, here's what you need to know.
What is HIPAA?
HIPAA stands for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act. This act was passed in 1996 and put in place to protect patients. The act requires the confidential handling and nondisclosure of protected health information.
What is telehealth?
Telehealth is the use of electronic information and telecommunications technologies to support and promote health care.
Telehealth technologies can include video conferencing, text messages and phone calls.
What do I need to know in the age of telehealth?
- Your telehealth visit is similar to your doctor appointment. That means you still may be responsible for your copay. It may be a good idea to call your health insurance before your appointment so you know exactly what you are responsible for paying.
- If your illness is related to COVID-19, your copay may be waived. This may vary from situation to situation. However, it may be a good idea to call your health insurance before your appointment just to be sure.
- At the start of the appointment, your health care provider may ask to take a picture of you. This is done for documentation and insurance purposes.
- If you need to show a particular area on camera for treatment, such as a rash, know that your health care provider may have to take a picture for documentation purposes while video conferencing.
- Before you get started with your telehealth appointment, your health care provider may ask you for consent.
- Before you end the call, it may be a good idea to ask questions on what to do next — if your symptoms do not resolve or you have another question, for example. Make sure you know how you can reach your health care provider after your telehealth appointment.