As more patients and providers embrace virtual healthcare services, the market for online telehealth platforms is growing ever more competitive. It’s only natural, therefore, that users are becoming more concerned about the potential risks involved.
In this article, we’ll highlight some of the security and privacy risks related to e-health, and show you how you can make the right choice to protect your patient’s information when searching for secure telehealth platforms.
Before reading on, we suggest testing out Quenza’s secure telehealth platform for 30 days at $1, to access all of its features. Quenza’s user-friendly blended care tools will help you deliver GDPR and HIPAA-compliant mental health treatments seamlessly, so that you can focus on enhancing the health and wellbeing of your clients.
Is Telehealth Safe and Secure?
Compared to in-person care, telehealth has several unique benefits that make it a safe way for patients to access timely, suitable treatments for their conditions.
Some of its direct advantages, for example, are that:
- Telehealth can help patients and healthcare staff avoid the unnecessary spread of infection
- It promotes continuity of care, by making between-session treatments possible
- It empowers communities and patients by enabling accessible health education and treatment options
- Telehealth can reduce patient anxiety about visits, and
- It can speed up and improve the accuracy of early diagnosis, through real-time insights.
With the growth of the telehealth market, however, there is increasingly more concern among practitioners about whether the software being used for e-health is safe.
Telehealth software is specially designed for telemedicine with HIPAA safeguards built in, and these are the best options for e-mental health and telemedicine practitioners.
These include worries about how electronic patient health information (ePHI) is transmitted, stored, and created, and whether the apps and platforms available today will cover the security and privacy requirements of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act – otherwise known as HIPAA.
In short, some software is specially designed for telemedicine with HIPAA safeguards built in, and these are the best options for e-mental health and telemedicine practitioners.
5 Secure Telehealth Platforms & Applications
All of these software solutions are secure telehealth platforms that can help you stay HIPAA compliant before, during, and after your client sessions.
Secure Video Telehealth Platforms
Here, we’ve highlighted Quenza, TheraNest, and Cliniko – three options that enable you to deliver video coaching or video therapy while protecting your patients’ privacy.
|For e-mental health providers looking for a secure telehealth solution, Quenza is fully GDPR- and HIPAA-compliant while supporting a vast array of multimedia uploads – video, audio, PDFs, images, and more.|
A white-label solution, all interventions, forms, notes, and treatments created on the software can be branded with your practice logo for a professional touch. Telepsychiatrists, e-therapists, mobile coaches, physical therapists, and other healthcare professionals can create full treatments from scratch using Quenza’s drag-and-drop builders, then share them quickly and easily using the platform’s free, HIPAA-compliant smartphone apps which come with a secure Patient or Client Portal.
All transmitted and stored data is encrypted to guarantee patient privacy and security, including real-time results from assessments, therapy notes, contact details from intake forms, and all multimedia correspondence. Quenza also comes with a large library of free, customizable intervention templates, validated scales, and practice forms, and a secure telehealth chat feature for live communications.
|Good For||Practice Management, Treatment Planning, Online Psychiatry, Teletherapy, Online Psychotherapy, Online CBT|
|TheraNest is a practice management solution with native, HIPAA-compliant video conferencing and therapy notes storage.|
Telehealth sessions are quick and convenient to conduct in real-time, by sending clients a secure appointment link that connects them to their therapist either directly from any connected device, or via a secure Client Portal with TheraNest’s free client apps.
It also offers capabilities such as e-signing, telehealth document locking, private patient-practitioner messaging to help you keep HIPAA-compliant therapy notes, and a wealth of customizable mental health templates for e-psychiatry, counseling, physical therapy, and general medical practice. With an easy-to-use free app for providers, it’s a fairly robust solution that offers plenty of functionality for larger practices.
|Good For||Practice Management, Treatment Planning, Online Psychiatry, Teletherapy, Online Psychotherapy|
|Cliniko allows for secure, HIPAA-compliant video conferencing, as well as online psychotherapy notes storage, e-billing, insurance claims management, and online payment processing.|
Easy to use with a clean interface, it also comes with plenty of customizable forms and medical templates that can be shared with clients – though it lacks a dedicated Client Portal.
For practices that carry out their own CRM, Cliniko also offers MailChimp integration and marketing performance insights, making it a cost-effective solution for smaller practices and solo providers.
|Good For||Practice Management, Teletherapy, Psychology Private Practice|
Secure Telehealth Platforms
If you’re looking for a secure document and notes storage solution, ICANotes and ClinicSource are two platforms designed specifically for telehealth – without video conferencing capabilities.
|ICANotes is specially designed for mental healthcare practitioners such as online counselors, e-therapists, and online psychiatrists, and GPs. It supports secure, unlimited e-prescriptions, medical billing, invoicing, and detailed patient charts for private, HIPAA-compliant PHI storage.|
While it doesn’t offer any video therapy features at all, it can be used for private messaging with clients, and supports secure within-clinic communications, so multiple providers can access, edit, and lock private patient data with e-signatures.
|Good For||Video Conferencing, Practice Management|
|ClinicSource offers user-friendly online therapy note templates for quicker documentation and secure PHI storage after your sessions. It can conveniently add your private notes into a holistic patient file with relevant admin data such as sessions booked, attendance, and more. Good for multi-provider agencies, it offers password-protected access via multiple accounts on a team plan and allows for HIPAA-compliant sending and sharing.|
The secure telehealth app also includes specialty-specific diagnostic codes, useful dropdown menus, and treatment goal templates.
|Good For||e-Mental Health, Occupational Therapy, Speech Therapy, Physical Therapy, Mental Health Coaching|
Using Quenza’s Safe Telehealth Software
As any professional will know, downloading a secure telehealth app is only one part of delivering professional mental health solutions online.
When using any platform for e-health, it’s important to remember that HIPAA compliance means taking additional steps to secure your patient’s ePHI.
You’ll need to:
- Conduct an initial security risk assessment, to assess how ePHI is generated, received, stored, and sent in your practice
- Create a risk reduction plan that covers how you’ll mitigate all of the potential security issues from your assessment, and
- Establish security safeguards to ensure that your procedures, policies, and other operations all appropriately protect your notes and client data remain secure and private under HIPAA.
Here, we’ll show you how a few of these essential steps can be done properly using Quenza.
With telehealth particularly, providers have a duty to inform patients about the risks and benefits of a proposed online treatment. This not only helps you prevent potential injury or distress for your clients but ensures both parties are fully aware of what therapy will involve, for informed decision-making.
Teletherapy consent forms often differ from standard Informed Consent documents in that they will need to outline the unique risks and benefits of remote treatment.
Using Quenza’s Activity Builder, it’s easy to modify existing documents to reflect these, as well as inform your clients about how technology will play a role in their treatment:
Designing your own Teletherapy Consent Forms with Quenza’s drag-and-drop tools is as simple as choosing the text-based fields you’d like to include, then integrating and amending text from any existing documents you might have.
To save you even more time, you’ll find ready-to-customize templates like the Coaching Agreement in the Expansion library to help you clarify expectations.
HIPAA-Compliant Forms and Therapy Notes
Secure therapy notes will be among the top issues highlighted during your security risk assessment, especially if you intend to access and amend your documents on the go.
Quenza’s smartphone apps help you keep these GDPR- and HIPAA-compliant through layers of encryption and private passwords for both app and web logins:
The same security standards on a patient’s end when sharing forms and collecting live results. Quenza’s Client Portal ensures all data from intake forms, psychological assessments, surveys, activity results, and more are only visible to practitioners and their patients.
Secure Video Telehealth
Video therapy content and private practitioner-patient messages are all subject to the HIPAA Act’s Privacy and Security rules, and thus encrypted automatically when shared through Quenza.
These may frequently include personal messages, updates, or advice, and so are secured on both ends and delivered directly to clients through the Portal.
Unlike publicly accessible third-party apps, all video content uploaded to Quenza is both GDPR- and HIPAA-compliant – it can be integrated into interventions or sent as simple messages for between session communication.
Are Zoom, Facetime, and Skype Secure?
It can be tempting to log into your regular VOIP or video chat platform to connect with clients between sessions, but are they HIPAA-compliant?
At the time of writing:
- Zoom now offers a secure healthcare service, with a full fact sheet here for practitioners who want to use it as a secure telehealth platform
- Facetime can be used for HIPAA compliant teleconferencing, provided professionals take reasonable, appropriate steps to protect PHI during sessions and afterward, for PHI storage, and
- Skype advertises HIPAA-compliant video communication tools and announces plans to enter into a HIPAA Business Associate Agreement.
Keeping your patients’ data secure and confidential isn’t just required by regulation – it’s critical for trust, rapport, and ultimately, better health outcomes.
Taking just a little time to ensure your chosen telehealth software is safe, private, and secure is well worth the peace of mind it creates, so hopefully, these reviews will help you off to a good start. If you’ve tried any platforms that you can recommend, do let us know in a comment.
If you’d like to help others with effective, satisfying, and HIPAA-compliant therapy, don’t forget to start your $1 trial of Quenza.
Our HIPAA-compliant telehealth software is designed with privacy and security in mind, and will give you everything you need to protect your clients’ PHI while helping them achieve their wellbeing goals.
- ^ Agboola, S., Kvedar, J., & Target, S. (2016). Telemedicine and patient safety. PSNet: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Retrieved from: http://www.wales.nhs.uk/technologymls/english/faq1.html
- ^ HHS.gov. (2021). Notification of Enforcement Discretion for Telehealth Remote Communications During the COVID-19 Nationwide Public Health Emergency. Retrieved from https://www.hhs.gov/hipaa/for-professionals/special-topics/emergency-preparedness/notification-enforcement-discretion-telehealth/index.html