Health Care Alert: Novel Coronavirus; Practice Updates and Guidance
HPM&B is monitoring the rapidly changing federal and state rules and regulations affecting your practice in light of the Novel Coronavirus. Some significant changes have already been announced with regard to regulations that pertain to telehealth, HIPAA as well as monitoring of employees for symptoms of COVID 19.
Following are key provisions pertaining to each topic.
The new changes now permit covered health care providers may use any non-public facing remote, audio or video communication product available to communicate with patients in order to provide telehealth care to patients, during this emergency. Providers may use telehealth services for any reason, and are not limited only to services directly related to the diagnosis or treatment of COVID 19 health conditions. Any video chat application connecting the provider’s or patients’ phone or desktop computer may be used. Applications that may be used include Apple FaceTime, Facebook Messenger video chat, Google Hangouts video or Skype. When using these applications, all encryption and privacy modes should be enabled.
Types of permitted services include: Telehealth visits for new and established patients; Virtual Check-in and E-visits for established patients. [https://www.hhs.gov/hipaa-for-professionals/special-topics/emergency-preparedness/index.html].
Some HIPAA regulations have been relaxed. Hospitals will not be penalized for failing ot comply with the following HIPAA requirements:
-to obtain a patient’s agreement to speak with family members or friends involved in a patient’s care;
-to distribute notices of privacy practices;
-the patient’s right to request privacy restrictions;
-the patient’s right to request confidential communications.
It is important to keep in mind that HIPAA allows sharing of health information for treatment purposes and for public health reporting and other activities without an authorization from the patient.
Disclosures to the media and others not involved in the patients care are NOT allowed.
Monitoring of employees
The EEOC issued a notice reminding health care providers that the ADA and Rehabilitation Act rules continue to apply but do not interfere with or prevent employers from following the guidelines and suggestions made by the CDC or state/local public health authorities about steps employers should take regarding COVID 19.
-Employers may ask employees if they are experiencing symptoms of COVID 19
-Employers may measure employees’ body temperatures
-Employees who become ill with symptoms of COVID 19 should leave the workplace
-Employers may require a physician certification before allowing an employee to return to work, although other certifications may be acceptable.
[See “What You Should Know About the ADA, the Rehabilitation Act and COVID-19”; updated March 18, 2020; www.eeoc.gov]
Please contact Jeannine Foran at firstname.lastname@example.org with any questions