Have You Updated Your Consent Forms To Include The Expanded Technology Now Used For Telemedicine?
Pre-COVID-19, telemedicine was not as popular as it is now. Even if patients received telemedicine services, they did not access remote services through their smartphones at home like they are during this COVID-19 pandemic. As the permitted use of technology has expanded on a temporary basis, providers should ensure their consent forms address the risks and benefits associated with telemedicine and the use of various technologies in order to mitigate potential risks.
When it comes to specific requirements regarding informed consent for telemedicine services, some states require providers to give patients informed consent regarding the potential risks, benefits and limitations of telemedicine. While Illinois does not have specific requirements, a best practice is to explain to patients how telemedicine works (e.g. when service is available, scheduling, privacy/security measures etc.), any limits on confidentiality, the possibility for technical failure or a security breach, protocols for contact between virtual visits, prescribing policies, and coordinating care with other health professionals.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Office for Civil Rights, temporarily waived enforcement for use of non-HIPAA-compliant telehealth technologies. In addition, Governor Pritzker's Executive Order 2020-09 dated March 19, 2020 expanded the types of technology that may be used to provide telehealth services. With the expansion of the types of technology that may be used, it is important for providers to take caution and notify patients of potential security risks, especially since the Executive Order allows telehealth services to be provided via electronic and telephonic methods, such as telephone calls, FaceTime, Facebook Messenger video chat, and Skype to name a few. Even with the relaxed requirements, the use of Facebook Live, TikTok, and Twitch are prohibited.
Connectivity issues are just one of many potential issues associated with the technology aspect of telemedicine. For example, video delays can potentially interrupt consultations between patients and providers and ultimately lead to dissatisfaction with telemedicine. Providers should explain these potential issues with their patients so they are fully aware of these challenges.
The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically changed how health care is delivered. Today, a provider is just a click and/or phone call away. As patients continue to minimize their exposure by limiting outside activities, telemedicine is not likely to go away anytime soon. As we see telemedicine increasing in popularity, our firm is here to guide you every step of the way.
If you have any additional questions or need assistance, please Contact Us if we may be of assistance.
Articles distributed by Malecki & Brooks Law Group, LLC are advertisements and summaries for general information and discussion purposes only. They are not full analyses of the matters presented, legal, or otherwise, and may not be relied upon as legal advice.
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