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Getting started

During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency, the federal government is encouraging health care providers to adopt and use telehealth to see patients in appropriate situations.

Integrating telehealth practices

There are several guides to help you start providing telehealth services — or to help you fine-tune if you’ve already started. For example:

The Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) funds regional resource centers to support organizations that provide — or would like to provide — telehealth. These resource centers are an excellent resource for assistance, education, and information about telehealth. Find your regional telehealth resource center exit disclaimer icon  or contact them with any telehealth-related question exit disclaimer icon .

Understanding telehealth technology options

If you have a phone or a device with the internet, you already have everything you need to provide telehealth.

During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency, health care providers may use any non-public facing application to communicate with patients without risking any federal penalties — even if the application isn’t in compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA). Read more about this in FAQs on Telehealth and HIPAA during the COVID-19 nationwide public health emergency (PDF). Health care providers that seek additional privacy protections should provide such services through technology vendors that are HIPAA compliant and will enter into HIPAA business associate agreements in connection with the provision of their video communication products. Read more about policy changes during the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency.

Finding a telehealth vendor

You have a number of options for telehealth delivery. The first step is to identify any technology that you have access to already. For example, your patient portal may have some types of telehealth functionality built in.

Once you’ve identified what technology you already have, here are some questions to assist in researching additional options:

  • How does the vendor protect personal health information?
  • Is a contract required?
  • Does it require any special equipment?
  • Is there a waiting room feature?
  • Can staff or patients schedule visits through the platform?
  • Can patients provide consent to receive telehealth on the platform itself?
  • Will your patients need to download an application to have a telehealth visit?

For guidance on selecting a vendor:

Resources on telehealth vendors and providers

Telemedicine & Telehealth Service Provider Directory exit disclaimer icon  — from the Arizona Telemedicine Program and Southwest Telehealth Resource Center, funded by HRSA. This directory lists companies providing telehealth for medical specialty services (such as radiology, rheumatology, neurology, psychiatry) and ancillary services (such as patient education and language interpretation).

Digital Health Directory exit disclaimer icon  — from the Consumer Technology Association and the American Telemedicine Association. This directory provides a curated list of telehealth services available to patients and health care providers.

Disclaimer: This list does not constitute an endorsement, certification, or recommendation of specific technology, software, applications, or products.

Last updated: August 25, 2020