USA: OCR issues FAQs on telehealth remote communications
The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services' Office for Civil Rights ('OCR') issued, on 20 March 2020, frequently asked questions ('FAQs') on telehealth remote communications following its Notification of Enforcement Discretion ('the Notification') during the COVID-10 ('Coronavirus') public health emergency. In particular, the FAQs clarify that the Notification applies to all healthcare providers that are covered by Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 ('HIPAA') and which provide telehealth services during the emergency, and that health insurance companies that pay for telehealth services are not covered by the Notification. Furthermore, the FAQs explain that applicable healthcare providers will not be subject to penalties for violations of the HIPAA Privacy, Security, and Breach Notification Rules ('the Rules') that occur in good faith in relation to the provision of telehealth services during the Coronavirus emergency.
In addition, the FAQs state that the Notification does not affect the application of the Rules to other areas of healthcare outside the emergency. Finally, the FAQs remind covered healthcare providers that, among other things, the OCR will issue a notice to the public when it will no longer exercise its enforcement discretion.