Encryption Technology for Confidential Communication
Unencrypted e-mail that is used by most people, due to transmission over the open internet is not secure from various individuals or corporate and other entities. Unethical persons may hack confidential information, while information technology businesses and other agencies parse online communication to gather data for internal uses, marketing, sale to other parties, and other uses.
To secure against potential invasions of client-therapist communication, Ronald Mah uses PrivateTree's technology to set up personal encrypted online confidential rooms for communication between himself as the therapist and the client. This technology meets or exceeds the confidentiality requirements of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), the Confidentiality of Medical Information Act, the under California Telemedicine Act, professional association Ethical Standards, and professional Standard of Care. Ronald Mah also uses PrivateTree technology for working with his coaching clients to maintain confidentiality in those relationships.
There are important qualifications or limitations to working with clients from a distance through online (internet) technology- telehealth. These have to do with the quality of telehealth work versus in-person treatment. Important considerations include risks to working with clients, online security of confidential client information, and whether therapy can be legal and appropriate or if the work, process, and relationship must be confined to coaching.
Services by use of Information Technology
Services by electronic means, including but not limited to telephone communication, the Internet, facsimile machines, and e-mail is considered telehealth (formerly called telemedicine) by the State of California. Under the California Telemedicine Act of 1996, telehealth is broadly defined as the use of information technology to deliver medical services and information from one location to another. If a client and the professional (coach or therapist) chooses to use information technology for some or all treatment, the client needs to understand that
(1) The client retains the option to withhold or withdraw consent at any time without affecting the right to future care or treatment or risking the loss or withdrawal of any program benetiss to which he or she would otherwise be entitled.
(2) All existing confidentiality protections are equally applicable.
(3) The client's access to all medical information transmitted during a telehealth consultation is guaranteed, and copies of this information are available for a reasonable fee.
(4) Dissemination of any of the client's identifiable images or information from the telehealth interaction to researchers or other entities shall not occur without the client's consent.
(5) There are potential risks, consequences, and benefits of telehealth.
Potential benefits include, but are not limited to improved communication capabilities, providing convenient access to up-to-date information, consultations, support, reduced costs, improved quality, change in the conditions of practice, improved access to coaching or therapy, better continuity of care, and reduction of lost work time and travel costs.
Effective coaching or therapy is often facilitated when the coach or therapist gathers within a session or a series of sessions, a multitude of observations, information, and experiences about the client. Coaches or therapists may make clinical assessments, diagnosis, and interventions based not only on direct verbal or auditory communications, written reports, and third person consultations, but also from direct visual and olfactory observations, information, and experiences.
When using information technology in coaching or therapy services, potential risks include, but are not limited to the coach or therapist’s inability to make visual and olfactory observations of clinically, therapeutically, or other potentially relevant issues such as: the client's physical condition including deformities, apparent height and weight, body type, attractiveness relative to social and cultural norms or standards, gait and motor coordination, posture, work speed, any noteworthy mannerism or gestures, physical or medical conditions including bruises or injuries, basic grooming and hygiene including appropriateness of dress, eye contact (including any changes in the previously listed issues), sex, chronological and apparent age, ethnicity, facial and body language, and congruence of language and facial or bodily expression.
Potential consequences thus include the coach or therapist not being aware of what he or she would consider important information that the client may not recognize as significant to present verbally to the coach or therapist.
PrivateTree Technology for Text Communication
PrivateTree technology is designed so that PrivateTree engineers, staff, and other personnel, as well as cloud server vendors, cannot access subscriber communications. Subscriber communications remain encrypted within PrivateTree rendering them nonsensical to all but the subscriber and invited individual in their private room. This encryption-secured design is a key reason for the U.S. Patent Office conferring a patent to PrivateTree for this unique technology.
This provides efficient and easy to use online communication between Ronald Mah and his clients without the high vulnerability to others breaching the confidentiality of client information. Using the client's email address, a message initiated by Ronald Mah through regular email will invite the client into a private confidential room accessible only to Ronald and the client. The client only has to follow the link provided, choose a password, and the confidential room is established. Separate confidential communication rooms may be established to include relevant persons such as other professionals and/or family members if deemed appropriate.
The PrivateTree rooms may be used for basic communication for scheduling but also for enhancing client growth and progress through clinically important discussion, transmission of confidential files, and/or continuing consultation.
Online Video Conferencing
To best protect client confidentiality per requirements of HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) Compliant Confidentiality, online video conferencing is available through V-See. Clients may sign-up for free at www.vsee.com.
Ronald Mah does not use Skype technology or other similiar programs because they are not usually HIPAA compliant and thus, risks the confidentiality of client and therapist communication.
Confidentiality of Client Healthcare Information
Client healthcare information must be kept confidential including for storage, record keeping, and transmission. Confidentiality requirements for healthcare providers extend to activities using information technology, and are also specifically delineated in some cases.
Coaches and therapists must maintain client confidentiality if they are a Covered Entity under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), as defined by the Confidentiality of Medical Information Act, and under California Telemedicine Act. Unencrypted e-mail and social media that is used by most people, due to transmission over the open internet is not secure from various individuals or corporate and other entities.