Today no one can live without a smart phone, and we interact with the rest of the world through a series of apps that reside on our handheld devices. From the healthcare perspective many large healthcare institutions and private companies have developed a myriad of healthcare related apps that currently reside in Apple’s App Store and Googles Play Store. You can measure your heart rate, get clinical advice, view your records, check on your health insurance coverage, make appointments and virtually interact with many different types of healthcare providers. But even in today’s hyper-electronic society it took COVID-19 to really cause an explosion in telehealth, so what does that tell us? There is a lot more room for expanding electronic interactions with patients and clients through Apps. So, here are the top five legal concerns should you address when you develop a Healthcare App:
The COVID-19 virus has and will probably continue to change the way healthcare providers and business associates interact and help their patients. As many providers are aware, a HIPAA violation is a serious issue, and can cost a healthcare entity large amounts of time and money to respond to any regulatory investigation. Recognizing that the COVID-19 pandemic has strained every corner of the economy and is THE MOST IMPORTANT issue for almost every industry, the federal government has rolled back some HIPAA protections. It is unclear how long these rollbacks will last, and it is possible that some of them may be permanent, but for now healthcare providers and their business associates can take some comfort that they can focus on delivering care and not dealing with overly burdensome regulations and investigations. The major changes include:
Telehealth. Changes include allowing physicians and other healthcare providers to offer telehealth services across State lines, so State licensing issues should not be a concern. Additionally, Providers are essentially free to choose almost any app to interact with their patients, even if it does not fully comply with the HIPAA rules. The HHS allows the provider to use their business judgment, but of course, such communications should NOT be public facing – which means DO NOT allow the public to watch or participate in the visit!
Disclosures of Protected Health Information (PHI). A good faith disclosure of such information will not be prosecuted. Examples include allowing a provider or business associate to share PHI for such purposes as controlling the spread of COVID-19, providing COVID-19 care, and even notifying the media, even if the patient has not, or will not grant his or her permission.
Business Associate Agreement (BAA). As most healthcare providers know, a BAA agreement between a provider and an entity that may have access to PHI is required by law. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the lack of a BAA is not an automatic violation.
Earlier today, Governor DeSantis issued Executive Order 20-144 extending the State of Emergency declare in Executive Order 20-52 for another 60 days. Pursuant to the extension of Executive Order 20-52, the State Surgeon General’s Order 20-003 is also extended another 60 days as its expiration is tied to the expiration of Executive Order 20-52. Thus, telehealth providers from other states with valid and unencumbered licenses may continue to provide telehealth services to persons in Florida without registering with the Department of Health. Telehealth services must still be provided using two-way audio and video communications. Audio-only telephone calls are not permitted under Florida’s existing telehealth statute and have not been waived or suspended via the State Surgeon General’s Orders.
The new rules and temporary waivers to help combat the COVID-19 pandemic seem to be changing everyday and questions about telemedicine seem to be flying in. Even though CMS has created some flexibility during this incredibly uncertain time telemedicine laws remain tricky and one size does not fit all! Join Attorney Susan St. John of the Florida Healthcare Law Firm for this informative presentation and get questions answered about the new rules, the setup basics, the billing recommendations and the potential pitfalls.
Access to telehealth for Medicare beneficiaries was further increased by the Trump Administration April 30, 2020. These new changes allows all health care professionals eligible to bill Medicare for services to provide services via telehealth communications and to bill the Medicare program for such services. Additionally, certain services may now be provided using audio technology only.
For a list of services eligible for reimbursement by the Medicare Program, including services requiring audio technology only, download here. There are approximately 180 different codes reimbursable by Medicare if provided via telehealth communications.
Hosted by Candela and Crystal Clear Digital Marketing, Florida Healthcare Law Firm attorney Chase Howard will be a panelist. Back by popular demand, join us for another Virtual Practice Workshop & uncover the growth opportunities you can capitalize on now, while also protecting your practice in today’s disruptive landscape.
AGENDA: 2:00 PM – 3:00 PM | EXPERT ROUNDTABLE Industry influencers share tools, resources & strategies for improving patient engagement, creating treatment demand & taking advantage of growth opportunities to meet the needs of today’s changing climate. Moderators: David Pataca, MSL, LSO, Executive Regional Director, Candela Medical Audrey Neff, Marketing Director, Crystal Clear Presenters: Chase Howard, Attorney, Florida Healthcare Law Firm Ilanit Samuels, Medical Director & PA-C, MCMS, Baumann Cosmetic Dermatology Dr. Tali Arviv, MD, Arviv Medical Aesthetics
Breaking News: The State Surgeon General issued Emergency Order 20-004 at approximately 6:01 p.m. on April 15, 2020. Emergency Order 20-004 extends all the provisions of Emergency Order 20-002 until May 8, 2020, unless further extended. Thus, certain practitioners licensed in other states may provide telehealth services to persons in Florida without having to register with the Department of Health. Also, Emergency Order 20-003, issued March 21, 2020, named additional clinical practitioners licensed in other states that may provide telehealth services to persons in Florida. The following professionals that hold an active, valid, and unencumbered license in another state, that are not under investigation or current discipline, and have not had their license revoked in any jurisdiction, may provide telehealth services in Florida:
Just the other day CMS issued new rules and temporary waivers to help combat the COVID pandemic. We are getting flooded with questions about telemedicine in particular and wanted to highlight some of the points of the March 31st update that relate to telehealth.
Hospitals may use and bill for telehealth services so that patients can be screened without presenting at a hospital. The telehealth screening will allow hospitals to determine the most appropriate site for care, thereby minimizing the patient’s risk of exposure to COVID-19.
Health care providers using telehealth will be able to bill for telehealth services at the same rate as in-person services of the same kind and level. Allowable telehealth services have also been expanded during the health care crisis.
Further, providers, including practitioners, may be able to temporarily enroll in Medicare to be able to assist with the current health care crisis.
Even though CMS has created some flexibility during this incredibly uncertain time…something about telemedicine laws remaining tricky and not being a one size fits all suit. Attorney Susan St. John will give you all of the details on how telemedicine set up, billing questions and more! Join us for this free webinar.
Like most medical practices and businesses in Florida, dental practices have been deemed non-essential except for emergency type services. For good reason, non-life threatening care, surgeries and services are put on hold to help curb the spread of COVID-19, which has left providers with the question of what they can do to maintain and treat patients remotely.
Teledentistry is the use of a telehealth system through a variety of different technologies to deliver virtual health services, including dentistry.
Telehealth includes live video (synchronous), store and forward (asynchronous), remote monitoring, and mobile health. Live video is a live, two-way transmission of audiovisual telecommunications. Store and forward is a recorded file of the patient’s health information. Remote monitoring allows a provider to track patient health data through the use of devices which transmit data to a portal which the provider can securely access. Mobile health is the use of personal devices to share health information and education.
The ADA has echoed local governments calls to alleviate the pressure on emergency services by having healthcare professionals postpone all elective services and non-emergency care. The ADA put forth guidance to help individuals and dentists determine what constitutes a dental emergency, which includes issues that are potentially life threatening and require immediate treatment. Immediate treatment would include stopping bleeding or treating severe pain, infections, or conditions. A more complete guide can be found here.
Health law is the federal, state, and local law, rules, regulations and other jurisprudence among providers, payers and vendors to the healthcare industry and its patient and delivery of health care services; all with an emphasis on operations, regulatory and transactional legal issues.