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The State of Telehealth: June 2020

Posted by Admin on Jun 4, 2020

Telehealth solutions continue to play a critical role internationally and domestically in the battle against the coronavirus pandemic. Telehealth services reduce overcrowding in hospitals and protect patients.

This article covers several recent developments in telehealth. We will look towards the future for ways to you can support/prepare your network.

Telehealth and HIPPA

A notable recent development is a change in the enforcement of HIPAA regulations to grant health care providers more flexibility. Under this amended policy, patients can access telehealth services using non-public-facing, which is a remote communication product. Some popular examples of non-public-facing are FaceTime, Zoom, and WhatsApp. These programs enable users to have better control over the transmission of data: video, audio, notifications, exchange, etc. In many cases, this process uses end-to-end encryption. This is in contrast to public-facing remote communication tools (e.g., a public chat room like Facebook Live) that are designed for open access. The problem with public-facing programs is that they don’t offer complete anonymity.

The non-enforcement notice is designated as “temporary,” but it has not been given an expiration date. Consequently, sufficient adoption and the absence of egregious breaches or interceptions could make this a permanent exception to HIPAA regulations that will eventually be codified. In theory, this may facilitate widespread adoption of telehealth services because patients will not be required to use custom apps or tools designed specifically for HIPAA compliance. Such services, while theoretically more secure, can often be cumbersome to use, serving as more of a barrier to widespread telehealth adoption.

Increasing Adoption

According to a recent survey from Sage Growth Partners (SGP) and Black Book Market Research, only 25% of respondents used telemedicine before the Covid pandemic. However, 59% said they are now more likely to do so in the future. 33% of respondents would consider switching primary care providers if telehealth services were unavailable. However, there are still challenges to achieving widespread adoption. The largest hurdle to overcome would be the uncertainty over service availability. In the same survey, only 44% of respondents believed they had telehealth services available to them, while 35% were unsure. Therefore, it is up to health care providers to communicate the services they offer their patients. Insurance companies must also provide clarity on coverage options and co-payment for their customers.

Preparing Your Network

Some health care sources predict that up to 20-30% of routine visits will become virtual, requiring health care facilities to increase bandwidth and robust network security to deliver the same quality of care.

Approved Networks has proven experience helping health care providers add bandwidth and upgrades to their networks. Additionally, Champion ONE can provide network security solutions, especially at the aggregation layer.

To learn more about our experience and expertise in health care, contact us today.