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Remote Supports Privacy and HIPAA Considerations

A computer screen displaying the word 'security'Under normal circumstances, ODP programs require HIPAA compliant methods when providing remote supports. In response to the COVID-19 national emergency, the Office of Civil Rights (OCR) has issued guidance describing modifications to the enforcement of these requirements.

"OCR will exercise its enforcement discretion and will not impose penalties for noncompliance with the regulatory requirements under the HIPAA Rules against covered health care providers in connection with the good faith provision of telehealth during the COVID-19 nationwide public health emergency."

In short, this allows providers to use a variety of remote support tools to deliver services in a way that is convenient for the individual receiving support. However, it is still important to make sure privacy and confidentiality are prioritized when delivering remote support. Please make sure to review the entire guidance document.  

Here are some suggestions to promote privacy and confidentiality:

  • As much as possible, be in a room with a closed door.
  • Minimize external distractions and other persons while doing remote supports. 
  • Do not record or save information from the remote support session.
  • Do not use speakerphone- a headset is best. 
  • Set ground rules with your family and others in your home (e.g., provide remote supports when a spouse, significant other, and/or older child can entertain younger kids/pets to minimize noise and other distractions).
  • If using video, consider what is in your background (e.g. personal documents, pictures) before engaging in support to minimize distraction but also to protect your privacy
    • If possible, use software that allows you to place a static image as your background.

Are there other strategies or recommendations that have been effective for the participants you support? If so, let us know! Please send any suggestions or questions related to this email or requests for additional resources to RA-basprovidersupprt@pa.gov