Psychologists Who Practice Via Online Counseling: Are They Really HIPAA Compliant?

Psychology, Confidence, Professional

Today, psychologists are offering their services online, and telehealth is continuously becoming popular. The top advantage of such practice in the mental health field is the availability of specialized services and expertise to patients in remote locations. Furthermore, telehealth enhances the availability of professional medical expertise globally with modern ways of clinical supervision.

In overall, telehealth provides efficient communication among professionals and their patients globally to engage each other through various technological means and a considerable supply of interventions to pick from. With all the benefits that telehealth offers, there are still many arguments in the mental health industry on whether or not it can be considered truly safe as well as private to the patients.

Why Telehealth Is Under Debate Over its Safety and Privacy

Furthermore, individuals with means of producing educational videos, applications, or websites, etc. can come up with such content easily, posing the risk of a patient obtaining inaccurate information. Another point of concern for telehealth is associated with its jurisdictional compliance. License specification typically differs per state or country. However, the ease with which psychologists can provide their services globally may ultimately lead to inadvertent legal or ethical malpractice.

HIPAA’s Security Protocols that Safeguards Patient’s Information

The first question a patient may ask when using telehealth services or telemedicine software is, “How safe and private is the service?” sincerely speaking, this is quite a valid concern for the patient and should be taken with utmost seriousness by the health provider. HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) which was passed in 1996 by the Congress makes sure that individuals can transfer as well as continue with their insurance cover even after changing jobs.

Additionally, the act instituted industry-wide policies on billing and healthcare information, among other processes. Most importantly, HIPAA ensured implementation and proper protection of patient information known as PHI (Protected Health Information). These protocols also apply to patient’s data, such as video visits that are transmitted via the internet.

Why Individual Therapists May Not Have Sufficient Security Protocols to Safeguard Your Data

To be safe from stiff penalties and be HIPAA compliant, medical practitioners are required to use telehealth solutions that meet HIPAA’s regulations. However, not all healthcare providers meet this test hence raising concerns. The laws typically apply to covered entities and all business associates such as organizations, agencies, and large medical firms. Professionals and therapists listed here all work with a HIPAA compliant service

Several reports have indicated that personal therapists, not working under professional medical bodies, may not be compliant to HIPAA laws. This means that they are less likely to follow and respect the patient’s privacy rights and information. Thus, this raises significant concerns for patients using telehealth services. Choosing to work with a therapist from a large telehealth company ensures that your data and private information is safe.

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