Ethical Concerns

Confidentiality is an ethical concern for all areas of healthcare, but especially Telehealth, since patient information will be shared via the internet and other modes of technology. It is relatively easy to control HIPAA compliance on the Health system and IT side of healthcare delivery as EHR and portal vendors all are HIPAA compliant. On the provider side, most practitioners are well-aware of HIPAA requirements in general practice but may need to be reminded of how Telehealth can conflict with HIPAA. For instance, they might need to be reminded how important it is to be mindful of their surroundings when offering Telehealth services, among other components of Telehealth etiquette. Challenges are more complex on the patient's side, especially when they are on the disconnected side of the divide. Patients in rural locations may not have access to the technology required for Telehealth services in their private homes. They may branch out into public spaces such as libraries, or community health centers to access the necessary equipment. If this is the case, they must ensure their privacy and the practitioner on the other end should remind the patient of this and encourage the individual to continue in an isolated area, if possible, in hopes to protect their privacy. 

 

Code of ethics

Professional codes of ethics are of paramount importance to guide providers through complex environments as they affirm the core ethical principles of their profession. Given the amount of change brought along by Telehealth implementation, referring to one’s Code of Ethics, or asking mentors for their support in accessing it, is a best practice. The Code of Ethics for Nurses, developed by the American Nurses Association (ANA) makes explicit the primary goals, values, and obligations of the nursing profession and reminds the ethical obligations and duties of every individual who enters the nursing profession, among which patient-centeredness, holistic care and advocacy for the underserved seem to be particularly fitting for the nurse who is a telehealth champion.