A caution if you plan to use telemedicine

Jamie

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BoneSmarties....we want to hear from you about telemedicine.

Please let us know your thoughts about using this option for some or all of your health care. Also, if you've had telemedicine sessions, let us know who they were with and how the experience went.
 

BoneSmart

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Today doctors and hospitals increasingly rely on telemedicine for patient consultations and appointments. Virtual doctor visits are a wonderful option during the pandemic, in areas that are under served medically, and for overall convenience. But they are not without risks. It pays to be a savvy consumer when your physician offers you a telehealth visit.

To encourage the use of telehealth during the COVID-19 pandemic, the US government has temporarily relaxed HIPAA rules to allow doctors to use providers such as FaceTime, WhatsApp, and apps such as Skype and Zoom. But none of these providers are required to follow HIPAA guidelines to protect the privacy of your health information. To follow HIPAA, a teleconferencing service must sign a Business Associate Agreement (BAA) with the healthcare provider that guarantees the service will abide by the same kinds of privacy rules a doctor would. This means they agree to keep your information and conversations secure and not sell any data that could identify you. Personal health information, whether it's videos or electronic medical records, needs to be encrypted to limit access to only the patient, the healthcare provider, and other authorized people.

If you plan to schedule a telehealth consultation and you are concerned about the security of any information that might be discussed or sent to the doctor during the visit, find out if the session will be conducted using a service that complies with HIPAA regulations. Services designed for shared broadcasts such as Twitch, Facebook Live, and TikTok are not appropriate for medical use under any circumstances. If you have concerns, you may want to use an old-fashioned phone call for all or part of your consultation.

Here are some services that comply with HIPAA:
* Amazon Chime​
* Cisco Webex Meetings and Webex Teams​
* Doxy.me​
* Google G Suite Hangouts Meet​
* GoToMeeting​
* Skype for Business and Microsoft Teams​
* Spruce Health Care Messenger​
* Zoom for Healthcare​
There are dedicated platforms like Teledoc, MD LIve, and SnapMD that are also secure since the HIPAA requirements are built into their software. Even so, it's a good idea to ask about data security or find out where on a company's website the security details are located.
Be aware that some services like Google, GoToMeeting, Skype, and Zoom have platforms that comply and others that do not. You can ask for a link to the security safeguards to be sure the site will encrypt your data. For marketing purposes, some services will advertise they are "HIPAA compliant," but in reality they are not covered under this requirement at all. It's easy to comply when you aren't covered....much like advertising a bag of apples as a "gluten free" food.

It's up to you to ensure your health information is safeguarded. Be an informed BoneSmartie!
 
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Honey007

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With regard to Telemedicine, I have used it twice and it worked out very well.

i used it this week with my Rheumy as I have a follow up apt. every four months and I was not feeling well enough that day so they easily switched it To a virtual call.
Because I have blood drawn, he sent the orders to a clinic in my area that is part of the hospital group he is associated with, so I just ran over that day for the bloodwork.

i found it was a better visit than the ones I usually have in person as my Dr. is great, but not the most personable. He was more relaxed and easier to talk to.

The only downside was he was about 30 minutes late to our call, and he apologized, stating the virtual appointments sometimes take him longer due to connectivity issues some patients have at first. He personally said when I asked that he does prefer to see patients in person, but that it is just something we will all get used to.

Of course many visits requiring extras, or certain procedures will have to be done in person, but this was time saving , convenient and safe as Covid is so rampant.
 

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