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Best practice guide

Telehealth for behavioral health care
For providers Best practice guides Telehealth for behavioral health care Preparing patients for telebehavioral health

Protecting patients’ privacy

Although it has many benefits, telehealth introduces certain privacy risks that are important to address.

Since it is common to talk through sensitive and confidential topics during behavioral health appointments, consider discussing the following with your patient:

  • Why and when having privacy is important
  • If your patient will be able to find a place to be alone for the appointment. If not, provide tips on finding a private location in their home or car, or in the home of a trusted friend or relative.
  • How to communicate using email, text, or your telehealth platform’s chat feature — especially if there might be issues with personal safety
  • Before the visit, find out if the patient will have an interpreter or caregiver present and talk about what they feel comfortable permitting the other person to hear. Determine if they need to fill out a release of information.

Tip: Understand the specific legal requirements and privacy concerns when providing care for patients with limited English proficiency and patients with disabilities.

Take extra precautions to protect patient privacy:

  • State your name and credentials and confirm the patient’s identity at the beginning of each appointment. Ask your patient to verify personal demographic information.
  • Ensure you and your patient are in a private area where you can speak openly. Both can “scan the room” with their device’s camera at the beginning of a video visit.
  • Use headphones to avoid confidential information being overheard by others.
  • Avoid public Wi-Fi and use password protected devices to log on to the telehealth visit.
Last updated: February 25, 2021