It’s been a week filled with last-minute government pivots to avoid interruptions of care. Literally less than 12 hours before the end of the public health emergency (PHE), Connecticut’s Department of Social Services (CT DSS) released revisions to its telehealth guidance for Medicaid recipients. Earlier this week, the Drug Enforcement Agency also issued a last-minute […]
You could almost hear the collective sigh of relief from healthcare providers around the country on May 9, 2023. Two days before the end of the public health emergency (PHE), the Drug Enforcement Agency issued a Temporary Rule that extends current flexibilities for telehealth prescribing of controlled substances for another six months. The Temporary Rule […]
On March 27, 2023, Connecticut’s Department of Social Services (CT DSS) published post-pandemic guidance regarding the delivery of telehealth services. Important subjects in the guidance include written consent, provider location, documentation requirements and the re-introduction of the established patient requirement for some services. This guidance is effective on May 12, 2023, the day after the […]
During the COVID-19 pandemic, the government extended much-needed flexibilities surrounding telehealth to facilitate access to care. Many of these flexibilities were lifesaving. This included allowing the prescription of controlled substances via telehealth to treat substance use disorders and psychiatric conditions. Background Prior to the pandemic, in most instances, a patient required at least one in-person […]
Written in collaboration with Melissa Chaplik, JD Candidate 2024 The COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (PHE) is ending on May 11, 2023, and so are HIPAA compliance flexibilities for telehealth. Here’s to hoping that the first two episodes of Telehealth, Privacy and The Three Little Pigs inspired action. In the first episode, I warned: Telehealth is […]
Today, the Department of Health and Human Services’ Office for Civil Rights (OCR) issued guidance on HIPAA requirements as they relate to audio-only telehealth. Importantly, for the first time, OCR provides insights on its position on the difference between landline and VoIP telecommunication services. OCR’s guidance applies now and after its telehealth enforcement discretion is […]
In my July 23, 2020 blog post, I used the familiar characters in the beloved fable The Three Little Pigs to illustrate the importance of building a secure and compliant telehealth delivery system. I explained that, despite the Office for Civil Rights’ (OCR) announcement of enforcement discretion during the public health emergency (PHE), healthcare providers should establish HIPAA-compliant telehealth delivery systems before enforcement discretion ended. Because the PHE may soon be over, that message bears repeating.
Early in the COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Ned Lamont expanded the use of telehealth for Medicaid-enrolled providers and in-network providers through various executive orders (G, DD and FF (collectively, the “Telehealth Executive Orders”)). That expansion included permitting the use of audio-only (telephone) delivery of telehealth services. On Friday, July 31, 2020, the Governor signed legislation, An Act Concerning Telehealth, that codified many of the provisions in the Telehealth Executive Orders through March 15, 2021.
We learned early in life from the Three Little Pigs that a house made of straw or sticks, while much easier to build, lacks the safety and security of a brick house. This fable’s lesson applies to many scenarios including the recent rapid deployment of telehealth services. While a pandemic, not laziness, caused the hurried telehealth services implementation for many, that’s irrelevant to the big bad wolf (and there is always a big bad wolf). He will come and he will huff, and he will puff, and he will compromise the privacy of patient information in a system without adequate protections.
Until recently, telehealth was not commonplace here in CT. Not only has the public health emergency forced widespread adoption of telehealth, but it also triggered a flurry of piecemeal rules and executive orders in rapid-fire succession causing substantial confusion. The most confusing of those rules relate to the delivery of telehealth services via telephone.