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How do I protect my data and privacy?

Your telehealth appointment is protected by privacy rules.

Woman sitting on floor, legs folded, with laptop in lap. Lock image on laptop screen.

Are telehealth visits private?

Telehealth visits are just as private as meeting with your provider face-to-face. Your provider wants to keep your health information safe and secure. Make sure you are taking steps to stay safe online. Here are some things to know:

  • Telehealth is safe. You will use a computer, tablet, or phone to speak with your provider during your telehealth visit. Your information is secure, just like when you visit your provider’s office.
  • Your privacy is important. It is still important to make sure that no one can listen in when you are speaking with your provider.

Understand how your health data is protected to ensure privacy.

How do I make sure my appointment is private?

When you talk to your provider using telehealth, you will have a conversation using technology. It is important to find a quiet spot where you can talk freely. Here are a few places you can consider:

  • Your own space. A quiet room in your home is perfect. It is like having the provider come to your living room.
  • Community space or library. A private spot in a community space can be a great location for your appointment, especially if you need access to free internet.
  • Parked in a car. Sitting in your car can be a great private place, especially if you park somewhere that is quiet.
  • Friend’s home. If your home is noisy, maybe you can use a quiet room at a friend’s place.
  • Outdoors. If you decide to have your telehealth visit in an outdoor spot, make sure it is quiet and away from crowds.

When you talk to your health care provider online, it is important your information is secure and cannot be seen by anyone that is not your provider or their staff. Here are ways to make sure your communication with your provider is private:

  • Use a patient portal. A patient portal can be used to send and receive messages safely.
  • Don't record. Your telehealth visits should not be recorded. The only information that is saved are notes that your health care provider writes in your private health record.

Did you know?

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 or HIPAA, created a federal law and standard for protecting your personal information. HIPAA rules keep your paper and digital medical histories private, including what you share during telehealth visits.

How can I safely share my personal information during a telehealth visit?

Both you and your provider need to work together to keep your health information safe. To protect your data:

  • Look for a lock or shield icon. Before you type in any personal information, check the website address. If you see a lock icon or a shield, that means it is a secure site.
  • Keep technology up to date. Make sure you have a good antivirus software on your computer, phone, or tablet.
  • Lock your WiFi. Your home internet should have a password.
  • Do not use public WiFi. Do not use free or public internet when you are sharing health information.
  • Use your own device. If you can, avoid using shared computers, tablets, or phones.
  • Know your provider. Don’t talk or share your health information with someone that says they are a health care provider unless you are sure. If you are not certain, call your regular provider’s office using the phone number you usually use to confirm.

More information:

Telehealth privacy tips for patients (PDF) — Health Resources and Services Administration

Telehealth privacy and security tips for patients — Office for Civil Rights