Telehealth, COVID-19 and HIPAA and YOUR Acupuncture Practice

Have you been thinking about Telehealth lately, especially with COVID-19?

Many have been asking me about Telehealth.

In the following post, I’ll go over Telehealth and what recent changes by the government means for you and your acupuncture practice.

What is Telehealth?

Telehealth is the ability for you to use various technologies to support long-distance health care.

Here’s how the Department of Health and Human Services defines Telehealth:

“The Health Resources Services Administration defines telehealth as the use of electronic information and telecommunications technologies to support long-distance clinical health care, patient and professional health-related education, public health and health administration. Technologies include videoconferencing, the internet, store-and-forward imaging, streaming media, and terrestrial and wireless communications.”

What are the new announcements?

The HHS recently announced it is relaxing the HIPAA requirements for health care providers to use any non-public facing remote audio or video communication technologies to provide telehealth to patients during the COVID-19 nationwide public health emergency.

In addition, the announcement applies to any health reason, regardless of whether it’s related to the diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19.

A covered health care provider that wants to use audio or video communication technology to provide telehealth to patients during the COVID-19 nationwide public health emergency can use any non-public facing remote communication product that is available to communicate with patients.  OCR is exercising its enforcement discretion to not impose penalties for noncompliance with the HIPAA Rules in connection with the good faith provision of telehealth using such non-public facing audio or video communication products during the COVID-19 nationwide public health emergency.  This exercise of discretion applies to telehealth provided for any reason, regardless of whether the telehealth service is related to the diagnosis and treatment of health conditions related to COVID-19.”

What are non-public facing technologies?

Basically, you can use technologies that provide a private, direct communication between you and the patient.

Examples of technologies you can use are:

  • Apple FaceTime
  • Facebook Messenger video chat
  • Google Hangouts video
  • Zoom
  • Skype

How can Telehealth you?

During this time of uncertainty, many practices are being force to temporarily close due to state and city wide lockdowns.

Many practices will have difficulty seeing patients during this time.

The temporary closures leave many patients unable to get care from the provider they’ve been accustomed to, during this time of uncertainty and stress.

Using Telehealth will give you the ability to provide some level of care to your patient while helping them through these difficult times.


Be Safe. Be Well.


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