Governor Gavin Newsom today signed Executive Order N-43-20 expanding protections to medical providers as they increase the use of video chats and similar applications to provide routine and non-emergency medical appointments in an effort to minimize patient exposure to COVID-19.

Background

We have been covering Telehealth on our blog on and off. With the outbreak of COVID-19, many industries have had no choice but to move forward with alternative means such as Telehealth.

This new order is a step in the right direction as it allows medical providers to provide the necessary services with fewer restrictions.

The public has had a growing awareness of similar technologies with the popularity of Zoom video conferencing. The new order can provide much-needed services to clients that already live remotely and are now more hesitant to leave their homes because of fear of infection.

Update

The order relaxes certain state privacy and security laws for medical providers, so they can provide telehealth services without the risk of being penalized. This action is similar to the federal HHS Office for Civil Rights waived issued March 17, 2020, regarding federal privacy and security laws. 

California continues to issue guidance on preparing and protecting California from COVID-19. Consolidated guidance is available on the California Department of Public Health’s Guidance website and the California Coronavirus (COVID-19) Response website.

Executive Order N-43-20

WHEREAS on March 4, 2020, I proclaimed a State of Emergency to exist in California as a result of the threat of COVID-19; and

WHEREAS on March 30, 2020, I issued Executive Order N-39-20 to pave the way for a temporary expansion of the health care workforce ahead of an anticipated surge in the need for medical treatment, and related strain on the health care delivery system, caused by COVID-19; and

WHEREAS clinics, hospitals, and other health care facilities and health care providers must maximize the number of capable health care workers through the use of telehealth services to ensure that Californians imp

WHEREAS it is imperative to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and protect health care workers, including through the use of telehealth services, where possible, for any reason (not limited to the diagnosis and treatment of COVID-19 or related conditions); and

WHEREAS health care facilities housing vulnerable populations, such as nursing homes and psychiatric facilities, require special measures to protect those populations from COVID-19 and ensure continuity of care

Recommendations

  • Healthcare providers should receive adequate training and test their systems prior to deployment in live scenarios.
  • Test audio (feedback, volume, clarity) and video quality (resolution, lighting, distracting backgrounds).
  • Many webcams, even ones in current model Apple products such as the Air have so-so quality webcams (720p) compared to better quality 1080p ones.
  • Ensure a good Internet connection and use ethernet when available as opposed to Wifi.
  • Secure your Wifi networks with a password.
  • Ensure that no identifying patient information is visible in your environment that may be broadcast/captured/recorded from the client’s end.
  • Take the necessary steps to secure the client’s information (privacy, HIPAA).
  • Develop a system for feedback and quality improvement.

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