The US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) and the Office for Civil Rights announced that, during the COVID-19 pandemic, they will use “enforcement discretion” and will not impose penalties for noncompliance with Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPPA) rules as they apply to telehealth.

“We are empowering medical providers to serve patients wherever they are during this national public health emergency. We are especially concerned about reaching those most at risk, including older persons and persons with disabilities,” said Roger Severino, OCR director, in the announcement.

Covered health care providers are permitted to use video chat apps like Apple FaceTime, Facebook Messenger video chat, Google Hangouts video, or Skype during the pandemic without penalty, though providers are encouraged to notify patients of potential privacy risks. Public-facing applications like Facebook Live, Twitch, and TikTok, however, should not be used.

To read the announcement in its entirety, please click here.

Source: HHS