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Guidance for Telemedicine – Start the Innovation Engines

As April starts, the country remains in the grips of the COVID-19 pandemic. Communities nationwide are facing issues of quarantine and isolation, loss of jobs and income, and illness of friends and family. It’s safe to say that everyone’s lives have been disrupted at best. The correctional health care community is no different and has been greatly affected.

But during these times, innovation, quick thinking and even heroism are necessary.

A great example of this quick thinking relates to the use of telemedicine or similar services. Jails and prisons are not new to telemedicine as it is often difficult to bring services inside a secure environment and, similarly, it is equally challenging to bring incarcerated patients to those services. Recognizing the increased need to use telemedicine services and questions about protecting patients’ health information, the Department of Health and Human Services (which enforces HIPAA protections) has provided the following guidance:

“A covered health care provider that 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. “

Please be sure to read the entire guidance document and also to discuss with your local authorities for applicability in your specific situation.

The bottom line is that the COVID-19 pandemic has forced all of us in the correctional health care community to think on our feet and come up with new ways to serve our patients and protect each other. Limiting direct physical contact is a key component of this and telemedicine services can be a part of the solution.

Are you doing something innovative that you want to share? Write to us at: NCCHC-COVID@ncchc.org.

And don’t forget to contribute to our survey. We are compiling weekly data and sharing with the community. Find out more and sign up here.

Be safe out there.

Brent R. Gibson, MD, MPH, CAE, FACPM, CCHP-P
Chief Health Officer

 

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