GUIDELINES, RESOURCES, AND TIPS FOR APSARD MEMBERS
Information re: COVID-19 for clinicians as of 3/24/20, compiled by Ellen Littman, PhD
- The American Psychiatric Association has updated telehealth restrictions in response to COVID-19 https://www.psychiatry.org/psychiatrists/practice/telepsychiatry/blog/apa-resources-on-telepsychiatry-and-covid-19?utm_source=Internal-Link&utm_medium=COVID-HUB&utm_campaign=Covid-19
- While clinicians are normally required to be licensed in the state in which their patient is located at the time of video session, many states are waiving those licensing restrictions, as governors declare states of emergency. A continually updating list of states waiving restrictions is available on the Federation of State Medical Boards website: https://www.fsmb.org/siteassets/advocacy/pdf/state-emergency-declaration-licensure-requirements-covid-19.pdf
- The Office of Civil Rights, responsible for enforcing HIPAA related rules within the US Dept. of Health and Human Services is waiving penalties for the use of videoconferencing software that fails to comply with HIPAA guidelines, such as Skype, FaceTime, and Google Hangouts. Facebook Live, Twitch, and TikTok are not acceptable. Some better encrypted HIPAA compliant platforms are listed at the HHS site, as well as additional information regarding the use of telehealth: https://www.hhs.gov/hipaa/for-professionals/special-topics/emergency-preparedness/notification-enforcement-discretion-telehealth/index.html
- The Drug Enforcement Administration has suspended the Ryan Haight Act, the requirement for an initial, in-person patient examination before a physician can prescribe a controlled substance electronically. Details: https://www.deadiversion.usdoj.gov/coronavirus.html#TELE
- Most but not all insurers will reimburse patients for telehealth services. Patients will need to contact their insurers directly. Medicare has committed to covering these sessions. More details: https://www.medicare.gov/coverage/telehealth
- The above waivers are temporary, although there are currently no set end dates.
- The FDA has authorized the first rapid ‘point-of-care’ test for COVID-19 that can provide results in 45 minutes. They intend to roll-out availability, primarily to hospitals, by March 30th. https://www.fda.gov/news-events/press-announcements/coronavirus-covid-19-update-fda-issues-first-emergency-use-authorization-point-care-diagnostic
- The World Health Organization details the overarching principles for mental health and psychosocial responses to COVID-19 for providers on the WHO website under the subheading MHPSS. https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/mental-health-considerations.pdf
- The Center for the Study of Traumatic Stress offers guidelines re the psychological effects of quarantine for providers https://www.cstsonline.org/assets/media/documents/CSTS_FS_Psychological_Effects_Quarantine_During_Coronavirus_Outbreak_Providers.pdf
- Anxiety and loneliness are overwhelming many. A resource for patient concerns is the SAMHSA Disaster Distress Helpline. 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUS to 66746. https://www.samhsa.gov/find-help/disaster-distress-helpline
- The National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) offers parents guidance for helping families cope with COVID-19. It can be accessed here: https://www.nctsn.org/resources/parent-caregiver-guide-to-helping-families-cope-with-the-coronavirus-disease-2019
APSARD members offer vital connection, support, advice, and structure to our patients as we ride out this time of uncertainty. To experience an exemplar of remote connection: https://slippedisc.com/2020/03/believe-it-orchestra-plays-beethoven-9th-from-their-homes/
While you shelter in place, you can connect with your APSARD colleagues via the message board, which can be reached by logging into the APSARD website.
I hope this is helpful to you—stay safe!