Telehealth in COVID-19 Times: Virtual Services, Telemedicine Providers & HIPAA

Telehealth in COVID-19 Times: Virtual Services, Telemedicine Providers & HIPAA


The highly contagious COVID-19 virus forced many state governors to enact stay-at-home orders, which encourages CMS to expand coverage of telemedicine services for Medicare recipients (CMS, 2020). There are 3 types of virtual health services that telemedicine providers can perform for Medicare beneficiaries, which is outlined below.

See more on coding for telemedicine in response to the 1135 Waiver Authority and Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act, in our previous article here.

Types of Virtual Services, Covered Telemedicine Providers, and HIPAA

There are 3 main types of virtual services physicians and other professionals can provide to Medicare beneficiaries: Medicare Telehealth Visits, Virtual Check-Ins, and E-Visits (CMS, 2020). Providers such as doctors, nurse practitioners, clinical psychologists, and licensed clinical social workers, will be able to offer telehealth to their patients.

Effective immediately, the HHS Office for Civil Rights (OCR) will exercise enforcement discretion and waive penalties for HIPAA violations 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 (HHS, 2020).

This is Part 2 of a 3-Part Series. Part 1 covered the telemedicine coding guidelines in response to the 1135 Waiver. Stay tuned for more details and reimbursement guidelines in Part 3.

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