A May 12, 2021, Texas Lawyer article quoted McGuireWoods partner
Jonathan Ishee at length in its discussion of “Cybercrime Threatening Gains Made by Telehealth During the Pandemic.”
Calling telehealth the “breakout technology” of the pandemic, Ishee noted
that health insurance plans typically didn’t cover telehealth services
until the pandemic forced providers and patients to reduce or curtail their
in-person office visits.
“The pandemic has shown that health care can be delivered via telehealth
without a decrease in the quality of the health care provided,” said Ishee,
a Houston-based healthcare lawyer. “Furthermore, many patients prefer
telehealth visits for routine issues vs. traditional in-person visits at a
provider’s office.” As pandemic restrictions ease, however, some worry that
regulators and payors will reinstate requirements they had relaxed during
the public health emergency and make telehealth less accessible.
Another increasing concern related to telehealth is cybercrime, Ishee said.
With patients’ personal and financial information exchanged remotely among
a variety of devices with uneven protection, the risk of ransomware attacks
and identity theft increases, he noted. But providers can take precautions.
“The history of best practices is to conduct an annual security audit or
security assessment to see if there are any gaps in their security plan and
deal with those,” he explained. “And frankly that’s very helpful, because
even if you have to spend money, that is still cheaper than having to
respond to a breach event or cybersecurity event.”