Federal Government Weakens Privacy Protections for Telemedicine

March 17, 2020

The Department of Health & Human Services announced today that it is rolling back privacy protections for electronic medical appointments during the coronavirus outbreak. HHS stated it will not take enforcement action against health care providers that violate the federal patient privacy law (HIPAA) when consulting with patients remotely, as long as providers act in "good faith." Normally, remote communications tools used for medical purposes must comply with strict privacy rules. Health care providers are still prohibited from using "public facing" applications such as Facebook Live and TikTok to consult with patients, HHS said. EPIC has long advocated privacy protections for medical information and filed a brief in IMS v. Sorrell urging the Supreme Court to safeguard prescription data.

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