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The OCR at the United States HHS has brought relaxation in HIPAA security and privacy guidelines for covered business associates and entities who contribute in good belief in the testing site process for COVID-19. Apart from that, there will also be no HIPAA penalties for covered healthcare associates/providers who participate in telehealth medicine via third-party apps like Facebook Messenger or Skype.

Reasons behind Relaxation in HIPAA Security and Privacy Guidelines

The main reason why there is a relaxation in HIPAA security and privacy guidelines is to help healthcare providers with immediate assistance. It includes a few large business associates and large pharmaceutical that want to be a part of the testing site process community-wide. Another reason is known as the CBTS (Community Based Testing Site) operation. Therefore, in a nutshell, it includes walk-up, mobile, and drive-through sites where healthcare providers would perform COVID-19 specimen testing or collection in abundance.

Telehealth products must comply with HIPAA security and privacy guidelines before COVID. Now, after the spread of this virus country-wide, the exemption of extreme circumstances plays its role to ensure flexibility in guidelines to stop the virus. Doctors are already overburdened with an increase in patients. If there is an additional administrative burden, it will add more hassle to their concerns. Therefore, OCR and CMS have provided a revolution in harsh conditions.

However, we still cannot undermine the significance of HIPAA. It is not compensable to risk data. It is just that they have offered some relaxation in the strictest guidelines for guanine concerns.

Safe Telehealth Communication Products

If providers aren’t public-facing software apps, they don’t need to bother about the products they can and cannot use. Products, such as Skype, Facebook Messenger, Google Hangouts, Zoom, and Apple FaceTime are reliable for care video & audio chats. While the above apps are good to use, a few apps like Facebook Live, Twitch, and TikTok are the public-facing apps. Therefore, they aren’t permissible. So, before providing care, use apps in the permitted category.

Healthcare workers are playing a major role during the pandemic. The OCR is exercising care enforcement discretion for reaching the furthest places. Providers would not be facing penalties if they don’t comply with the regulatory requirements of HIPAA.

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