For hospitals that serve rural communities, providing telemedicine services and sharing electronic health systems with non-affiliated healthcare organizations may be commonplace. Because of the rural setting and limited resources available to many patients, the ability to connect with patients and share data outside of the walls of the hospital is a necessity and payers have recognized those services.
With the recent passage of the 21st Century Cures Act , it is clear that the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (“CMS”) believes virtual healthcare could be a necessity for all patients, not just those living in rural communities. Buried within the 1,000 plus pages of legislation is a mandate from Congress for CMS and MedPAC to (1) conduct studies on how telehealth use can benefit Medicare enrollees; and, (2) identify types of high volume services and related diagnoses suitable for telehealth services. Over the next year, CMS and MedPAC will assess and report on the impact of expanding telehealth services on patient access to quality care.
As healthcare becomes more mobile and patients expect efficient and effective choices, healthcare providers must be ready to adopt changes such as expansion of telehealth services in a compliant manner. Before a healthcare organization can consider adopting a concept as virtual healthcare, it is crucial to have a mature and tested privacy and security compliance program in place.
Do you understand your current privacy and security risk? Be proactive, conduct a privacy and security compliance assessment and know your risks.
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