Effective immediately, a covered health care provider, including dentists, whot wants to use audio or video communication technology to provide telehealth to patients during the COVID-19 nationwide public health emergency can use any non-public facing remote communication product that is available to communicate with patients. The Office of Civil Rights (OCR) is exercising its enforcement discretion to NOT impose penalties for noncompliance with the HIPAA Rules in connection with the good faith provision of telehealth using such communication products during the COVID-19 nationwide public health emergency. This exercise of discretion applies to telehealth provided for any reason, regardless of whether the telehealth service is related to the diagnosis and treatment of health conditions related to COVID-19. For example, you may provide telehealth services in the exercise of your professional judgment to assess or treat a dental issue.
Under the Health and Human Services notice, you may use popular applications that allow for video chats, including Apple FaceTime, Facebook Messenger video chat, Google Hangouts video or Skype, to provide telehealth without risk that OCR might seek to impose a penalty for noncompliance with the HIPAA Rules related to the good faith provision of telehealth during the COVID-19 nationwide public health emergency. Providers are encouraged to notify patients that these third-party applications potentially introduce privacy risks, and providers should enable all available encryption and privacy modes when using such application. However, Facebook Live, Twitch, TikTok and similar video communication applications are public facing, and should NOT be used.