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Platform & Software Requirements

  • Platform & Software Requirements
  • Ranna Parekh, M.D., M.P.H.

Compared to ten or more years ago, the hardware and software options available for live videoconferencing has grown considerably, with many desktop and mobile applications, across multiple platforms, offering live videoconferencing software options. However, there are still several features common across all platforms that are considered to be the gold standard for live videoconferencing for the purposes of telepsychiatry.

  • Be sure to use a broadband internet connection that, at minimum, has a transmission speed of at least 5 MB upload/download to avoid pixilation, frequent buffering, and other video and audio difficulties associated with slow and insufficient transmission. Higher speeds might be required for newer technologies that use HD capabilities.
  • Choose a software solution that is HIPAA-compliant, as many popular, free products are not. Also, when reviewing software options, you will notice that many vendors require a “business associate agreement,” or a BAA, to ensure HIPAA compliance. Contact the vendor and confirm what such an agreement entails.
  • Also, HIPAA compliance may also dependent on the interface of your videoconferencing software with other aspects of your practice, such as EHRs, so it is best to think about HIPAA and telepsychiatry from a global, “all technologies” perspective.
  • When partnering with 3rd party telepsychiatry vendors, be sure to check if their encryption meets the FIPS 140-2 certified 256 bit standard; that any peer-to-peer videoconferencing (streamed endpoint-to-endpoint) is not stored or intercepted by the company in any way; and that any recorded videoconferences or—if available—text-based chat sessions near the chat window are stored locally, on your own HIPAA-compliant device or electronic record keeping system, in order to safeguard any electronic protected health information or PHI.

References

  1. “Business Associate Contracts: Sample Business Associate Agreement Provisions,” 2013, United States Department of Health and Human Services.

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