ALERT: Malpractice Insurance & Telehealth Coverage

ALERT: Malpractice Insurance & Telehealth Coverage

In our most recent webinar, California Workers’ Comp Telehealth Made Easy, we reviewed the Medicare and California Division of Workers’ Compensation (DWC) rules for providing medical treatment via telehealth.

Today’s blog post is short but extraordinarily important.

Every practice considering furnishing telehealth services should contact their malpractice insurance carrier to confirm that telehealth services are covered by the practice’s policy. Some policies do not cover telemedicine exposure at all or these policies have restrictive vendor requirements, including HIPAA requirements that are in excess of those currently mandated by the DWC and the U.S. Health and Human Services Office for Civil Rights (OCR).

Due to the COVID-19 emergency, and in order to promote telehealth services, the OCR has significantly relaxed enforcement of telehealth HIPAA requirements.

  • The OCR is waiving HIPAA violation penalties against “health care providers that serve patients in good faith through everyday communications technologies, such as Facetime or Skype during the COVID-19 nationwide public health emergency.”
  • The OCR goes so far as to explicitly allow telehealth providers to use popular video chat applications such as Apple Facetime, Facebook Messenger video chat, Google Hangouts video, and Skype
  • Additionally, the OCR is allowing providers to use these popular video chat applications without requiring that providers enter into a HIPAA Business Associates Agreement with these vendors.

At the bottom of this post, we’ve included the slides from the webinar which address the use of popular video conferencing applications that were previously not available due to HIPAA restrictions.

Alert Repeat (for important emphasis): Only furnish telehealth medical service after checking your malpractice insurance policy.

To learn about why E-billing is critical during COVID-19 and the details of how workers' comp E-billing is different from group health or Medicare, sign-up for our free upcoming webinar below.

For more on telehealth rules for Medicare, California health insurers, and California workers’ compensation, look through the free resources available on our COVID-10 page.




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