About Kirsty Watson

Community Manager at Bridge Patient Portal. Marrying her passion for healthcare with her experience in digital marketing.

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Community Manager at Bridge Patient Portal. Marrying her passion for healthcare with her experience in digital marketing.

Research Finds Significant Patient Portal Benefits For Remote Patient Monitoring

 

Patient Portal Benefits

It has been found that people who engage with healthcare providers through online patient portals benefit from improved health outcomes. Researchers at The University of Texas partnered with UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas to study the patient portal logs for 3,266 patients with congestive heart failure over 12 years.

 

Multiple benefits of patient portals for patients were discovered throughout the study. Patient health outcomes were improved in several ways after the continued use of a patient portal. Patients who effectively used a portal were 2-4% less likely to be hospitalized. Those who engaged with the portal were 3.2% less likely to visit the emergency room. The average length of stay after being hospitalized decreased by 11%. Readmission rates were about 2% lower among users of patient portals compared to those who did not make use of a patient portal.

During the study, researchers noted which portal features were most frequently used by the patients. Below we summarize how certain patient portal features result in reduced inpatient visits, 30-day readmission rate, ER visits, and the average length of stay.

Lab results and medical history

Lab results can be automatically uploaded to the patient portal from the EHR or lab. A patient can be notified by an alert when their test results are available. Access to lab results and medical history improves the accuracy of patient health information as providers can update the info as soon as anything changes. Access to these features allows for ease of access for providers to patient medication history, lab results, and health summary. These features provide accurate and comprehensive information for both patients and providers. This leads to many benefits of patient portals in healthcare as providers can gain valuable insight into the patient’s overall health. Providers are able to determine the level of adherence to a medical regimen and care plans in order to work with the patient to make improvements.

Secure messaging

A secure HIPAA-compliant messaging platform allows patients to communicate with health providers and vice versa. Patients get a notification when a new message is waiting for them. Providers can respond to incoming messages through the patient portal, or directly from their EHR using an interface. Secure messaging improves communication between patients and providers. This increase in communication improves care coordination and allows for shared decision making. Patients are able to provide their healthcare providers with updates regarding their health, which allows both parties to monitor disease progression.

Prescription refill request and appointment scheduling

Patient self-scheduling software allows patients to book appointments at their own convenience. Self-scheduling allows patients to select their doctor and preferred visit time from a list of available appointment slots. Appointment scheduling improves visit adherence and reduces no-show rates. Prescription refill requests allow the patient to order a refill of their medication through the patient portal. This feature within a patient portal benefits adherence to a medication regimen. Both features increase patient satisfaction and self-efficacy.

Healthcare organizations should consider increasing patient engagement through access to the patient portal in order to increase patient outcomes by decreasing inpatient visits, readmission rate, ER visits, and the average length of stay.

Community Manager at Bridge Patient Portal. Marrying her passion for healthcare with her experience in digital marketing.

Patient Portal Proxy Access: A Common Failure In Patient Portals

Patient Portal proxy access

Patient Portal Proxy Access

Patient portal proxy access allows caregivers or legal guardians to access their dependents’ patient portals. Studies have shown that patients generally saw benefits once caregivers had access to the information and functions within their patient portal, such as health literacy assistance and help in the time of medical emergencies. Proxy patient portal access is most commonly used in these scenarios:

 

  • A parent accessing their son or daughter’s patient portal account
  • A son or daughter accessing their elderly parent’s patient portal account
  • A nurse or caretaker accessing their patient’s account, when that nurse or caretaker is not affiliated with the healthcare organization providing the patient portal account
  • A husband or wife accessing their significant other’s patient portal account

“Parents are amongst the most active patient portal users. Therefore, providing parents with the ability to manage their children’s care from a patient portal or mobile app easily is an incredibly powerful feature,” explains John Deutsch, founder and CEO of Bridge Patient Portal. Patient portal systems can help caregivers better manage care for the patient. However, patients have shown concern about providing caregivers with information regarding stigmatized conditions and financial billing information.

Providing proxy portal access impacts a patient’s privacy and security in multiple ways.

Patient Portal Proxy Access Protects Patients’ Privacy

Proxy portal access promotes better healthcare for minors, the elderly, and others that may struggle to manage their health independently, without infringing on privacy. Everyone has the right to privacy and the right to withhold information they consider sensitive. In one study, almost half of US hospitals failed to protect their patients’ data as they endorsed the sharing of login credentials. The sharing of login credentials should be against hospital policy and may invalidate the solution as being a HIPAA compliant patient portal.

Track Changes Made Within The Portal

Logging in as the patient allows third-parties full access to the healthcare portal and the ability to make changes on behalf of the patient. Healthcare organizations often assume incorrectly that these requests/changes are being made by the patient. This makes it difficult to track the true identity of the person making changes in the portal, as it may appear that those changes have been authorized by the patient.

Prevent Patients’ From Being Locked Out

The sharing of login details can result in patients being locked out of their own account. Losing access is not always due to malicious intent as caregivers may lock patients out of the portal by mistake. Secure software has protocols in place to flag suspicious activity such as multiple active logins, logins from unknown devices, or too many failed logins.

Honor Age Of Majority Laws

The sharing of login details allows for permanent access unless the patient changes their password. This may prove to be an issue when children become legal adults, but their parents still have access to their health information, or in any situation where a patient would like to revoke access. The patient portal proxy access should support state-specific age of majority laws so that once the child reaches the age of majority, the parent or guardian access to the dependent’s portal is automatically unlinked.

Stop Security Breaches

With regards to patient portal security, research has shown that people often use similar passwords across multiple systems; patients may not be aware that they are opening themselves to a massive security risk by using just one password.

Limit The Amount Of Access

Patient portal caregiver access is vital to our most at-risk population. The best solution would allow patients to give access to caregivers at a level they deem appropriate. Patient portals should provide patients with a default proxy account configuration that includes access to most information and functions, but requires an opt-in for the complete medical record, billing, and insurance information. Portals could also provide a simple checklist of access controls to help patients decide what information or functionality to grant the caregiver.

Easy Registration

Registering for a proxy account can frequently prove difficult, and in many cases, requires the caregiver to go in person to the hospital or clinic. Patient portal self-registration is a valuable feature allowing patients and caregivers to register on their own with very little to no assistance required.

As patient portal proxy access continues to gain momentum, hospitals and electronic health record (EHR) vendors need to seek patient portal systems that allow caregivers to care for patients without violating their privacy or placing them at risk of security breaches.

Community Manager at Bridge Patient Portal. Marrying her passion for healthcare with her experience in digital marketing.

The Dawn Of The Virtual Waiting Room

Covid-19 telemedicine

patient portal for medical clinicsThe COVID-19 pandemic is changing the way healthcare professionals are interacting with their patients. At the height of the pandemic, healthcare practices of all types have turned to telehealth/telemedicine to interact with patients remotely. Telehealth software use is being driven by necessity since patients are advised not to physically go to a medical clinic or any other healthcare facility due to the risk of COVID-19 exposure. But not every healthcare specialty lends itself well to telehealth. In certain scenarios, patients need to see their providers in person.

As government and healthcare officials are slowly relaxing the restrictions regarding visiting healthcare offices, the risk of COVID-19 exposure is still present. Patients are now more aware of how the virus spreads and the risk of being infected by contact with people, places, and objects (including pens, clipboards, and shared devices like tablets and kiosks). It’s preferable that patients use their own devices with the aid of a mobile app patient portal to complete the patient intake process.

The Virtual Waiting Room

Some officials want to prevent the use of the traditional waiting room as much as possible since forcing patients to sit in a room in close proximity to others is a breeding ground for viruses. For instance, in New York City, patients are advised to remain in their car until it’s time for their appointment as contact with potentially contaminated objects should be limited at all costs. Because of new protocols enacted across cities, for how patients receive in-person care and limit exposure to contamination, a patient intake option that can be completed on one’s own devices via a mobile app patient portal would be beneficial.

Patient Portal For Medical Clinics

Healthcare providers are seeking a solution to complete intake forms, gather patient clinical histories, and other documentation virtually. A patient portal for medical clinics can provide patients with a means to complete necessary forms online before a consultation, (leading to a better in-person experience) and deliver more efficiency to doctors and medical staff by cutting down wait times. Patient portal solutions are also valuable because healthcare practices can utilize them to inform patients of new policies before a visit to the office and disseminate educational materials. Some examples include the requirement for patients to wear masks during visits, instructions for virtual check-in, the protocol for reporting COVID-19 symptoms prior to arrival, where patients should wait before an appointment, precautions to prevent the spread of COVID-19, etc. HIPAA compliant appointment reminders, broadcast messaging, and bidirectional patient messaging are pivotal in communicating new protocols for visiting a provider.

The healthcare landscape has drastically changed since the onslaught of COVID-19, which has forced medical practices and healthcare organizations to change how they operate to meet the evolving needs of patients and prioritize public health. Consider the importance of integrating a patient portal for your medical organization. Contact us to learn more.

Community Manager at Bridge Patient Portal. Marrying her passion for healthcare with her experience in digital marketing.

How Patient Portals For Healthcare Improve Health

patient portals improving healthcare

There have been many findings supporting the fact that patient portals have a positive effect on patients’ health. Positive influences include improved communication between physician and patient, enhanced self-management of overall wellness, and better patient health behaviors.

Improved communication between physician and patient

Patient portals for healthcare may help facilitate patient engagement and improve outcomes when fully utilized by patients and care partners. Healthcare providers who use a patient portal recognize its ability to engage patients in their care, facilitate stronger patient-provider communication, and increase convenience. (Bridge has found that patient-provider secure messaging is the most commonly used feature in its patient portal solution.) Healthcare consumers indicate that the use of a patient portal can result in saved time and money, and serves to provide relevant health information. Additionally, portals have demonstrated other benefits, including the discovery of medical errors, and improving adherence to medications.

Self-management of overall wellness

Patients are able to truly take ownership of their health when provided with tools such as a patient portal for healthcare, which often results in improved health. According to a group of researchers from Kaiser Permanente, those with diabetes who use a patient portal may be better off than those who do not, with the portal leading to better medication adherence and overall chronic disease management. The research found that diabetic patients (with a higher baseline glycated hemoglobin level, >8.0%), who adopted a patient portal that was accessible on desktop and mobile, had heightened levels of medication adherence when compared to not having one at all. These patients saw better medication adherence of 95%, and a decrease in glycated hemoglobin levels by 95%. The study anticipated that access to clinical data via a patient portal smartphone application would allow individuals to better understand and manage their health information. Patients could be assured of their data accuracy, shop for personalized healthcare services, and seamlessly share their electronic health records with new providers.

Improved patient health behaviors

Studies also show that patient health behaviors are improved with the use of a patient portal for healthcare. These findings may encourage providers to promote portal use to improve patients’ preventive health behaviors. Annual flu vaccinations, blood pressure checks, and lipid level screens were substantially higher in portal users compared with nonusers. Patient portal use has also been found to be effective in improving psychological outcomes, such as decision making and self-efficacy, and behavioral outcomes, such as medication adherence and cancer screening.

It’s clear that patient portals have many positive effects on the patient experience and health outcomes. Healthcare organizations should consider implementing this solution to provide better care and empower patients to take a larger role in their own health management.

Community Manager at Bridge Patient Portal. Marrying her passion for healthcare with her experience in digital marketing.

Telehealth vs Telemedicine

telehealth vs telemedicine

Within the healthcare industry, medical jargon can be thrown around with little rhyme or reason. This may not be a problem for professionals within the field but may prove difficult for the general public, especially for patients trying to figure out what their medical payer may or may not cover. Terminology such as telehealth and telemedicine are often used interchangeably. The truth is that these terms refer to a different way of administering health care via existing technologies or a different area of medical technology.

Telemedicine Definition

Telemedicine is the clinical application of technology of a physician delivering medical care to patients remotely using technology including telecommunications infrastructure. Telemedicine refers specifically to remote clinical services.

Telehealth Definition

Telehealth is more of a consumer-facing approach that refers to the technology and services used to provide medical care and medical services remotely. Telehealth can refer to remote non-clinical services.

Is Telemedicine or Telehealth more predominantly used? 

As a result of our Google traffic research, we discovered that on average telehealth was searched 23,987 over the past 12 months, while telemedicine was searched 32,044 times. 

Through our analysis of the major healthcare payers and IT vendors, the majority of organizations (57%) use the term telehealth. These organizations include Medicare, Amwell, Teladoc, MDlive, Epic, Eclinicalworks, United Health Group, and Aetna. 21% of our subjects including Snap.md, Cerner, and Humana use the terms telemedicine or telehealth interchangeably. Medicaid, Doctor On Demand and Doxy.me comprise the final 22% that make use of the term telemedicine.

 

Telehealth vs Telemedicine

Other terms used to describe remote medical care:

  • Video Visit 
  • eConsultation
  • Digital Triage 
  • eVisit
  • Remote Medicine 
  • Teladoc
  • Telecare
Community Manager at Bridge Patient Portal. Marrying her passion for healthcare with her experience in digital marketing.

Bridge Makes Patient Portal Login Faster and More Secure With Fingerprint and Facial Recognition

patient portal mobile app

Bridge Patient Portal introduces biometric authentication on mobile devices for fast, easy, and secure patient portal login 

Dallas, TX – April 29, 2020 – Bridge Patient Portal, the enterprise patient engagement platform for leading healthcare organizations, today announced the release of biometric authentication for user login on mobile devices.

This new feature enables users to seamlessly verify their identity through fingerprint or facial recognition technology before accessing the patient portal. The functionality works on Android and iOS devices that have existing biometric capabilities. Per HIPAA regulations, many healthcare organizations have enacted policies that require users to create long-form, complex passwords that must be changed every 60-90 days, and automatic log out procedures after a predetermined period of inactivity, typically 30 minutes or less. 

“We want to remove the roadblocks of having to remember complex passwords and give patients a quick, secure, and frictionless experience when accessing health information, paying bills, or communicating with clinicians. The integration of biometric authentication increases patient portal usage by making access easier for the user, which is a common complaint from patients,” said John Deutsch, CEO of Bridge Patient Portal. 

This new feature comes as the healthcare industry witnesses a heightened increase in cyber threats and unresolved deficiencies with patient portal registration, login, and forgotten username/password. Consumers have shown a strong preference toward biometric authentication and Bridge has responded.

“This is a further commitment toward our unwavering adherence to security and providing our clients with the strongest measures to protect sensitive patient information,” John added.

With this latest feature, Bridge continues to refine the patient experience by giving users what they expect from modern, consumer-facing technologies. Patients can now securely self-register, reset passwords, and log in conveniently without help from staff. (All biometric user data is stored on the patient’s device and not with Bridge.) The new biometric functionality is available for Bridge’s new Bridge Patient Portal Version 3.0, which was recently released in March 2020 and offers healthcare organizations a seamless and client-branded web to a mobile experience.

About Bridge Patient Portal

Bridge Patient Portal is an enterprise patient portal and engagement solution that empowers patients with self-service tools to better manage their care. The Bridge Patient Portal platform is client-branded and ideal for health organizations seeking to replace their existing EHR portals or connect to disparate EHR environments with a single, EHR-agnostic patient portal platform available on desktop, iOS, and Android. Founded in 2012 and headquartered in Dallas, Texas, Bridge Patient Portal has installations in many of healthcare’s leading practices, hospitals, and health systems nationwide. For more information, visit http://www.bridgepatientportal.com/ or call 800-467-2321.

Media Contact

Clement Baptiste

[email protected]

Originally published on 24-7PressRelease: https://www.24-7pressrelease.com/press-release/472226/bridge-makes-patient-portal-login-faster-and-more-secure-with-fingerprint-and-facial-recognition

Community Manager at Bridge Patient Portal. Marrying her passion for healthcare with her experience in digital marketing.

Is Whatsapp a HIPAA compliant telemedicine software?

Patient Engagement

width="300"Healthcare professionals have recently increased their efforts to provide patients with remote consultations and HIPAA compliant messaging. Some have turned to WhatsApp, a cross-platform messaging and VoIP (Voice over Internet Protocol) service that allows users to send text messages and voice messages, make voice and video calls, and share images, documents, user locations, and other media. But you might be wondering: Is WhatsApp a HIPAA compliant telemedicine software?

In order for a communications platform to be considered HIPAA compliant, it must fulfill the following requirements:

  • Employ end-to-end encryption
  • Implement access control
  • Enable audit controls 
  • Sign a business associate agreement (BAA)

Discover whether Zoom is a HIPAA compliant telemedicine software

WhatsApp provides end-to-end encryption, but that does not mean that it is HIPAA compliant. There are other facets of HIPAA that must be satisfied before the software can be deemed compliant.

  1. Since WhatsApp does not require users to enter a password for every session, it does not provide the required access controls.
  2. Because messages and attachments are easily deleted from Whatsapp, audits cannot be conducted, which is necessary for HIPAA compliance.
  3. WhatsApp lacks the controls to make sure all communications that contain ePHI (electronic personal health information) are completely deleted remotely once an employee leaves the employment of a Covered Entity.
  4. WhatsApp has not agreed to sign a BAA with a covered entity.

Whatsapp is NOT a HIPAA compliant telemedicine software and should not be used to share ePHI or deliver online healthcare since doing so would violate HIPAA regulations. Healthcare professionals may use WhatsApp for general communication or for providing de-identified PHI.

Discover whether Skype is a HIPAA compliant telemedicine software

If healthcare professionals would like to leverage a HIPAA compliant video communication tool, some companies have already stated that they will enter into a HIPAA business associate agreement and follow HIPAA compliance regulations. The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has provided a list of HIPAA compliant telemedicine software:

  • Skype for Business
  • Updox
  • VSee
  • Doxy.me
  • Google G Suite Hangouts Meet
Community Manager at Bridge Patient Portal. Marrying her passion for healthcare with her experience in digital marketing.

Bridge’s Guide To The FCC Telehealth Fund

telehealth fund

What is the FCC Telehealth Fund?

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) COVID-19 Telehealth Program authorized by the CARES Act will provide $200 million in funding to support healthcare providers in offering telehealth services to patients during the coronavirus pandemic. The COVID-19 Telehealth Program aims to fully fund telecommunications services for eligible healthcare providers. Funds can be used to purchase devices and software needed to provide vital telehealth services in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This support will continue until the program’s funds have been depleted or the COVID-19 pandemic has ended.

Who qualifies for the FCC Telehealth Fund?

The COVID-19 Telehealth Program is open to healthcare providers/organizations that treat patients within the USA. The FCC Telehealth Program is limited to nonprofit and public healthcare providers, including:

  1. Post-secondary educational institutions offering healthcare instruction, teaching hospitals, and medical schools
  2. Community healthcare centers or healthcare centers providing healthcare to migrants
  3. Local health departments or agencies
  4. Community mental health centers
  5. Not-for-profit hospitals
  6. Rural health clinics
  7. Skilled nursing facilities
  8. Associations of healthcare providers consisting of one or more entities falling into the first seven categories  

The goal is to allocate funding to providers that serve areas which have been the most affected by COVID-19, and where support will be the most impactful on addressing the current healthcare challenge. 

Participants are chosen based on responses to the following criteria: 

  • Conditions to be treated
  • Goals and objectives to be achieved with the funding
  • Timeline for the deployment of the proposed service(s) or devices
  • Metrics that the applicant will use to help measure the impact of the funded services and devices
  • Geographic area and population served by the applicant
  • Whether funding will help high-risk and vulnerable patients

What products qualify for the FCC Telehealth Program?

The FCC Telehealth Program will support eligible healthcare providers to purchase telecommunications, information services, and connected devices required to provide telehealth services at this time.  

Eligible services and connected devices for funding include: 

  • Telecommunications and broadband connectivity services for healthcare providers or their patients.
  • Information services and online connected platforms for remote patient monitoring, patient-reported outcomes, the transfer of patient images and data, and video consultation. 
  • Connected devices/equipment such as tablets, smartphones, or other devices to receive care at home (e.g., broadband-enabled blood pressure monitors, pulse monitors, oxygen monitors), or telemedicine kiosks/carts for healthcare providers.

Vendors of eligible services and devices are not eligible to apply for funding. The program is also not intended to fund the development of new websites, systems, or platforms.  

How to acquire funding?

  1. Obtain an FCC Registration Number (FRN) from the Commission Registration System (CORES), as well as a CORES username and password. 
  2. Obtain an eligibility determination from the Universal Service Administrative Company (USAC) by filing FCC Form 460 through My Portal on USAC’s webpage. 
  3. Register with the federal System for Award Management (SAM)
  4. Submit an application 
  5. The FCC will review your request and may ask for additional information; from there, they will issue a funding decision.
  6. After purchasing services and or devices, healthcare providers that receive funding through the program will submit invoicing forms and supporting documentation monthly to the Commission.  
  7. After the reimbursement request is approved, payment will be issued electronically to the healthcare provider.

Contact us to discover how the Bridge Patient Portal can solve your remote patient monitoring and or patient-reported outcomes needs.

Community Manager at Bridge Patient Portal. Marrying her passion for healthcare with her experience in digital marketing.

The Rise Of Telehealth Software During COVID-19

Patient Engagement solution

Due to the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) that was first reported in Wuhan, China, on December 31st, 2019, the public is turning to telehealth to prevent further spread of the virus. Telehealth is the use of electronic information and telecommunications technologies to support and promote long-distance clinical health care. Telehealth software allows healthcare providers to conduct consultations with patients while both parties maintain a safe distance, preventing the spread of the virus.

Payers & Telehealth

Before the COVID-19 crisis, some private health insurance providers covered telehealth consultations, though this significantly varied by the payer and across states. If telehealth consultations were covered, they were usually at a lower reimbursement rate.

Medicare would cover telehealth if the patient lived in a “health professional shortage area” that is outside a metropolitan area. Medicare also required that patients go to a designated healthcare facility to initiate a video visit. After the initial e-visit, the patient and their local provider could connect using telehealth technology. Video visits from home, or anywhere that was not within a designated “originating site,” were not covered under Medicare.

Medicaid’s telehealth coverage was based on state laws, as the federal Medicaid statute does not recognize telehealth as a distinct service. Telehealth was viewed as a cost-effective alternative to the more traditional face-to-face way of providing medical care. Fifty states and Washington, DC, provided reimbursement for some form of live video in Medicaid fee-for-service.

Families First Coronavirus Response Act & telehealth

Due to the COVID-19, healthcare authorities have urged the public and healthcare organizations to make use of telehealth software. The federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act passed on March 18th, 2020, requires payers to waive the amount an individual would pay for telehealth. USA President Donald Trump announced that “Medicare patients can now visit any doctor by phone or videoconference at no additional cost, including with commonly used services like FaceTime and Skype.” During the pandemic, health care providers will not be subject to penalties for violations of the HIPAA Privacy, Security, and Breach Notification Rules that occur in the good faith provision of telehealth.

Telehealth Demand

Barriers that previously interfered with the use of telehealth software have been removed during this time. With the recent passing of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, patients are not required to pay for telehealth consultations related to COVID-19 testing and treatment. Additionally, public knowledge of telehealth software capabilities has significantly increased. Patients are now seeking alternatives to reduce their costs associated with COVID-19 testing and treatment, and will likely become accustomed to the convenience of receiving care via telehealth. Furthermore, the new Interoperability and Patient Access final rule legislation promotes secure and straightforward access to personal health information by patients through ubiquitous technologies such as smartphones. And the trend in mobile app implementation by healthcare providers will further drive the adoption of telehealth.

Telehealth & Healthcare Organizations

Telehealth may seem like a new concept fueled by COVID-19, but in reality, telehealth software companies have been around for many years and are growing in popularity. (The expectation is that the changes as mentioned above will rapidly drive growth.)

CareClix was founded in 2010 and works with qualified practicing physicians to provide a wide range of telehealth services. CareClix accepts Medicare, Medicaid, and most private insurance plans.

MDLive was founded in 2009 and has multiple partnerships within healthcare systems across the United States; they also accept some health insurers, including Blue Cross Blue Shield (BCBS). MDLive provides the public with healthcare professionals who are available by phone or online video 24 hours a day to help patients answer questions about non-emergency related medical conditions.

In both cases, these companies are staffed with their own physician network. This means that they provide telehealth software and physicians. There are other vendors in the market that provide only the technology, which is then purchased by healthcare organizations to be used with their own physician network. Bridge Patient Portal is an example of a vendor that provides a platform for healthcare organizations to offer telehealth services to patients using their private providers. It’s essential to recognize the difference in approach here. There are many considerations in terms of the pros and cons of each model. There’s a risk when physicians step out of their primary care provider’s (PCP) network and go to a random telehealth provider for their care. One could say that when a patient’s private insurance company is promoting their own telehealth provider, they are essentially circumventing the patient’s PCP. An example of this is BCBS’ partnership with MDLive, where patients are encouraged to seek care outside of their PCP.

Unless brick and mortar healthcare organizations adopt telehealth platforms, they may lose the business of their patients. The rapid growth in demand for telehealth, and circumventing by private healthcare insurance companies, are leaving healthcare organizations scrambling to provide their patients with telehealth software. As a temporary solution, healthcare providers can leverage traditional video conferencing platforms for e-consultations. Once the crisis has subsided, healthcare providers will likely no longer be able to use telehealth in this manner — as the HIPAA waiver expires. In addition, healthcare providers will no longer be reimbursed for telehealth services through video conferencing platforms. Given the many challenges that exist today in sharing health records, it’s preferred that patients seek care with the same network of providers to reduce the duplication of care and diagnostic testing. But if a patient’s PCP can’t provide telehealth, they may be forced to seek care elsewhere.

Community Manager at Bridge Patient Portal. Marrying her passion for healthcare with her experience in digital marketing.

Is Zoom a HIPAA Compliant Telehealth Software?

Patient engagement platform

According to the Families First Coronavirus Response Act passed on March 18th, 2020, congress requires payers to cover telehealth visits (with health care providers) that relate to COVID-19 testing, treatment, and consultations during the public health emergency. Reimbursement for telehealth solutions during this time is being provided for all patients, not only those with Medicare. During the COVID-19 pandemic, many healthcare professionals are scrambling to find easy-to-use video conferencing platforms such as Zoom.

HHS has created new guidelines on HIPAA requirements and modified HIPAA’s Privacy Rule, which stated that healthcare organizations must use only secure methods of communication for telehealth visits. The Office for Civil Rights said that videoconferencing services normally not permitted under HIPAA may now be used by healthcare professionals for the good faith provision of telehealth solutions. This change in policy allows video conferencing platforms such as Zoom to be used during this time of crisis.

Discover whether Skype is a HIPAA compliant telehealth software

The Coronavirus pandemic has resulted in an increase in healthcare organizations leveraging video conferencing apps. In the past month, Zoom has become one of the most popular choices for teleconferencing, registering a 535% increase in traffic. Previously Zoom has maintained that they provide a HIPAA compliant telehealth software: Zoom for Telehealth. This service claims to incorporate access and authentication controls, HIPAA compliant messaging is secured with end-to-end encryption and Zoom has signed a HIPAA Business Associate Agreement (BAA).

During the last few weeks, there have been several security concerns surrounding Zoom. It has been reported that the company does not have end-to-end encryption as they previously claimed. This discovery makes Zoom decidedly NOT HIPAA compliant.

Discover whether Whatsapp is a HIPAA compliant telehealth software

If healthcare providers want to ensure that patient privacy is respected, they should reconsider the use of Zoom as a HIPAA compliant telehealth software. Aside from the lack of end-to-end encryption, additional security concerns include videoconference hijacking, user data being shared with third parties such as Facebook, and lapses in security that make Zoom vulnerable to cybercriminals and malware. While Zoom is willing to sign a BAA, which is a crucial step towards achieving HIPAA-compliance, there are too many security issues preventing HIPAA-compliance. Until these issues are fully resolved, we do not recommend Zoom as a HIPAA compliant telehealth software.

Community Manager at Bridge Patient Portal. Marrying her passion for healthcare with her experience in digital marketing.