Behavioral Healthcare Executive: How to Ensure Telehealth Exceeds Data Security and Privacy Requirements

How to Ensure Telehealth Exceeds Data Security and Privacy Requirements

By Nicholas Chepesiuk, for Psychiatry and Behavioural Health Learning Network 

November 1, 2021

Digital healthcare has made patient care more accessible and convenient, while opening up new business opportunities for healthcare organizations. However, I’m often asked by healthcare leaders: How do we create the best and most secure digital healthcare experience for providers and patients?

Technology solutions that are available today help eliminate time and space barriers for providers and patients with features that touch every part of the patient journey, like digital intake, video conferencing, content management, and more. Providers can leverage myriad digital care tools that enable patients to receive treatment when and where they need it most. Patients are also accustomed to new standards of healthcare delivery and expect to receive care where and when it suits them; however, they also expect their digital touchpoints to be as secure as an in-person visit.

Getting Started

When it comes to ensuring organizations are meeting—and exceeding—requirements for data security and privacy, it starts with education. First, there needs to be a standardized method of educating not only healthcare providers but also medical students on the value of digital healthcare. This means a strong emphasis on rules and regulations for security, technology standards, and “webside manner,” to help ensure patients are receiving safe and quality care.

Beyond standards, healthcare providers must have the appropriate skills and knowledge to effectively provide digital services. Leaders can rely on their telehealth vendor for support in this area, including ongoing education and training on security and privacy regulations and requirements. This includes provider training on informed consent. It can also mean implementing automated workflow steps that require patients to provide approvals prior to every appointment to certify that they understand their provider’s privacy standards.

Next, prior to choosing a telehealth solution, large healthcare organizations should confirm their vendor’s software is healthcare security compliant in their country and state. This requirement is table-stakes for both telehealth vendors and healthcare organizations. In the US, this means organizations need to comply with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Once compliance is confirmed, leaders look at ways their telehealth vendor ensures security on top of the minimum requirements. Vendors can do this several ways, like building native virtual care apps that are installed directly on both a provider and patient’s device instead of being accessed through an unsecured browser. Furthermore, patient data should be stored on servers in their home country for additional security, with regular third-party audits to verify the vendor’s ongoing compliance.

Enabling a Secure Patient Experience

Security is one piece of each patient’s virtual care experience, albeit the most important. However, in considering the question of how telehealth can meet and exceed data security and privacy requirements, leaders should examine how to create the best telehealth experience with their secure solution. This is where asynchronous care tools come in, like content management features that help providers deliver superior outpatient programs at any time. A good content management tool does just that by enabling providers to share custom content, such as videos, forms, and files, or other documents before, during, or after an appointment.

Addiction Treatment Centers Grow With Asynchronous Care Tools

There are many considerations for healthcare organizations looking to champion secure and asynchronous telehealth. Ensuring providers are set up for success, providing asynchronous care opportunities for patients, and finding ways to personalize the care experience with content are just a few. By reimagining healthcare delivery and choosing technology that creates the best and most secure digital healthcare experience for providers and patients, organizations and their providers can revolutionize how they provide care.