HIPAA Compliant Video Chat

It seems as though the coronavirus pandemic has had a lasting effect on telehealth. However, the extended public health emergency won’t last forever, at some point, likely soon, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will start its enforcement actions on the use of non-HIPAA compliant video chat tools. So now is the time to look at your video chat tool to see if it is HIPAA compliant. In this article, we examine several leading video tools which offer HIPAA compliant video chat.

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What is a HIPAA Compliant Video Chat Tool?

Before we dive in, first let’s discuss the temporary public health emergency. To ensure continued access to medical care for patients across the country, the HHS temporarily suspended enforcement actions surrounding the use of telehealth offered “in good faith.” This allowed providers to offer video sessions to patients using non-public facing video conferencing tools that are generally not considered HIPAA compliant

This included tools such as Factime, WhatsApp, and Facebook Messenger. Although these tools are still able to be used for telehealth sessions, at some point in the near future, providers wishing to continue to offer telehealth must move away from these platforms, and conduct sessions via a HIPAA compliant video chat platform.

For a platform to be considered HIPAA compliant, it must have certain features.

These features include:

End-to-end Encryption. Masks sensitive data in transit (being sent) and at rest (being stored), so that it can only be read with a decryption key. This is the most effective way to prevent unauthorized access to protected health information (PHI).

Access Controls. Sets access levels to PHI based on an employee’s job function. Only those that need access to PHI, should have access to it.

Audit Controls. Tracks access to PHI to ensure adherence to the minimum necessary standard. This standard requires organizations and their employees to only access PHI for a specific purpose.

Business Associate Agreements. Even if a platform has all of the required security measures in place, if they are unwilling to sign a business associate agreement (BAA), their platform cannot be used for telehealth sessions (beyond the public health emergency). A BAA dictates the safeguards the business associate (video conferencing tool) must have in place to work with a covered entity (telehealth provider). A BAA also requires each signing party to manage and maintain their HIPAA compliance.

HIPAA Compliant Video Chat: Zoom for Healthcare

Zoom, arguably the most popular video conferencing tool out there, has a platform specifically for healthcare providers. This platform known as “Zoom for Healthcare” is HIPAA compliant; their free version, however, is not. Zoom for Healthcare integrates with medical devices, such as exam cameras and digital stethoscopes. It also has the ability to integrate to EHRs for easy access to medical records. 

Features included in Zoom for Healthcare are:

HD video and audio

Mute/unmute tool

Chat messenger tool

In-app file sharing

Transcripts of recordings

Whiteboard tool

Patient waiting room

HIPAA Compliant Video Chat: VSee

VSee is a patient-focused video conferencing and practice management tool. During sessions, providers can easily share health records, lab results, CT scans, etc., with patients. It also integrates with wearable devices to give providers real-time access to patients blood pressure and heart rate readings.

Other features include:

VSee compatible medical equipment

Patient self-scheduling

Virtual intake forms

Auto-confirmations via SMS and email

Live annotation and screen sharing

Electronic prescriptions

Ability to add in additional care team members during an appointment

Post-visit patient surveys

HIPAA Compliant Video Chat: GoToMeeting

GoToMeeting also offers separate versions of their service for healthcare providers. There are three options that providers can choose from that are HIPAA compliant, the only tool that offers this. GoToMeeting also allows users to have up to 150 individuals join a call on their basic version (this is more than any other platform).

More features include:

HD audio and video

Meeting locks

Unlimited number of meetings

Screen sharing

In-app file sharing

Chat messaging

In-app note-taking

No time limit on meetings

HIPAA Compliant Video Chat: SimplePractice Telehealth

SimplePractice Telehealth also offers HIPAA compliant video chat, and practice management tools. Its unique feature is the ability to process insurance information. The platform also allows providers to