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Patient privacy

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Patient privacy is protected in a telehealth/telemedicine consultation in the same way it is protected in a face-to-face visit. 

Prior to a telehealth clinical consultation, patients are generally provided with an overview of how their consultation will be managed and are asked to sign a consent form that explains how their information will be used and who will have access to it. 

When telehealth/telemedicine hardware is used, customized software encrypts patient information. Encryption software must meet HIPAA federal security standards and guidelines. If mobile devices are used (such as phones and tablets), additional security efforts should be made through the use of passwords and the ability to remotely disable mobile devices that are lost or stolen. 

It is important to know that the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was passed in the U.S. in 1996. This law protects a patient’s right to privacy in both a face-to-face visit and a telehealth consultation. Healthcare providers are legally bound by this law.