The pandemic forced us to reevaluate how we work. In an effort to reduce the risk of exposure to COVID-19, we shifted a large portion of our workforce to remote status. This provided an opportunity not just to increase the safety of our workforce, but also to see if a remote workforce was a viable option.
So far, for many organizations, the answer is yes.
Is that true in healthcare?
Although it make sense in many business settings, skeptics voiced concern about whether this would work in the healthcare sector. First, it is important to note that the healthcare market is about more than just medicine. It is a business. Business operations require non-clinical staff, many of which can and have easily made the transition to remote status.
In a recent example, Advocate Aurora Health has chosen to allow 12,000 healthcare employees to remain in their remote positions permanently. The move frees up healthcare organizations to shift funding from leases and real estate to staffing or other needs as less office space is needed.
Are there any concerns about telehealth and federal regulations?
Healthcare providers still need to abide by federal as well as state and local regulations — even when working remotely. The United States Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) encouraged compliance even during the worst of the pandemic. The HHS provided guidance on how to avoid running afoul of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA).
How can I make sure my private practice or healthcare organization uses telehealth wisely?
Internal audits can help to uncover any issues or potential problems before they become a bigger concern. If you receive notification of an investigation or allegations of healthcare fraud or other violation, it is important to act promptly to protect your interests. This can include gathering evidence to defend against the allegations or pointing out a safe harbor within the regulation that covers your organization.