The Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights will immediately exercise its enforcement discretion and waive potential penalties for HIPAA violations against health care providers that serve patients through everyday communications technologies during the COVID-19 nationwide public health emergency, the agency announced today. 

The discretion applies to widely available communications apps, such as FaceTime or Skype, when used in good faith for any telehealth treatment or diagnostic purpose, regardless of whether the telehealth service is directly related to COVID-19, HHS said. 

“In support of this action, OCR will be providing further guidance explaining how covered health care providers can use remote video communication products and offer telehealth to patients responsibly,” the agency said.

For more on HIPAA and COVID-19, see OCR's February Bulletin.
 

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