Telehealth, sometimes referred to as telemedicine, uses telecommunication to provide some health services to those who, for one reason or another, are unable to have a physical meeting with a doctor. It is a rapidly growing industry, in both revenue and popularity. In the U.S. alone, telemedicine trends are showing an estimated to growth from $240 million in revenue (2013) to about 1.9 billion (2018).
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act–HIPAA– was passed in 1996 to give protection. People want to make sure telehealth services use hipaa compliant software. This especially becomes a concern when a patient is seeking a psychiatrist. When a session is being conducted through a computer, there is the fear that a patient’s information may be insecurely transferred or shared.
According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services website, the Security Rule published in 2003,
- “specifies a series of administrative, technical, and physical security procedures for covered entities to use to assure the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of electronic protected health information”.
The advantages of telehealth are that good physicians can reach patients far outside their area. In rural areas this can prove a blessing. Patients who go to the emergency room for psychological concerns may be offered telemedicine psychiatry, and be helped faster than the hospital or clinic would otherwise been able. In one 18-month study, it was found that patients were more likely to keep an appointment than a traditional face-to-face appointment, at 92% versus 87%, respectively.
Telemedicine video conferencing solutions need to also offer hipaa compliant software. Patients want to feel their information is secure. It isn’t only about protecting patient information, either. Twenty-two states have now directed insurance companies to charge telemedicine services the same as in-office.
Telehealth is a growing market, serving the needs of patients for a variety of needs. It is a excellent approach to closing the information gap between patient and physician.