FaceTime Calls Are Doctor-Patient Friendly

Discussion in 'iOS Blog Discussion' started by MacRumors, Sep 21, 2011.

  1. macrumors bot


    Apr 12, 2001


    Calls made using Apple's video chat program, FaceTime, are encrypted end-to-end and -- with the right setup -- are HIPAA compliant, according to a statement from the company obtained by ZDNet.

    This matters because any products for healthcare purchased with federal funds must be HIPAA-compliant. HIPAA, or the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, was a large health-care bill passed in 1996, that, among other things, instituted wide requirements and guidelines surrounding patient privacy and confidentiality.

    Keeping Protected Health Information, or PHI, safe and secure is essential for healthcare providers and FaceTime meeting those requirements allows hospitals to not only purchase iPads with federal funds, but it allows doctors to use FaceTime to confer with colleagues about patient issues and to talk directly to patients remotely.

    However, to be truly compliant, hospitals need to have the proper wireless network. The WEP encryption protocol isn't strong enough and Apple recommends WPA2 Enterprise for secure communications:
    FaceTime is available on the iPhone 4, iPad 2, fourth generation iPod touch and Macs running Snow Leopard and Lion. Video chats are available between any and all of these devices.

    Apple has aggressively promoted the feature since it was released.

    Article Link: FaceTime Calls Are Doctor-Patient Friendly
  2. macrumors 68020


    Jun 11, 2007
  3. Contributing Editor


    Jun 2, 2011
    Durango, CO
    A famous sales aphorism is "Sell the sizzle, not the steak."

    Emotion is Apple's sizzle. It's not about the specs -- it's about what you can do with it.
  4. macrumors 6502a

    Jul 8, 2011
    True that, and the ease of use compared to the rest of the industry is a very strong hook. why look elsewhere as long as your needs are met.

    I know apple can be stingy with it's Bluetooth peripherals and such, but its simply because that way the products that are compatible, are Compatible and will work.
  5. macrumors G5


    May 2, 2002
    I agree that emotion/style are sizzle, not steak.

    But what too few tech companies realize is: a list of specs is ALSO only sizzle. What you can DO with the product, and how well, and how easily, is the steak!

    Look at cameras that list high megapixels (sizzle) but take poorer pictures (no steak). Or Android tablets that claim Flash (sizzle) even though it doesn’t work well, while there are almost zero truly excellent tablet-scale apps to use (no steak).
  6. macrumors 65816

    Aug 24, 2005
    To be honest, this is the keystone of any successful sales pitch - 'typical' people don't care their computer has 4 cores, 4 gigs of RAM and a speedy graphics chip. They care that it lets them edit their home movies, email their loved ones, store their photos safely etc etc.

    It's not what you've got. it's what you can do with it. Apple win at this.
  7. macrumors 604


    Mar 26, 2008
    Wirelessly posted (Mozilla/5.0 (iPhone; U; CPU iPhone OS 4_3_5 like Mac OS X; de-de) AppleWebKit/533.17.9 (KHTML, like Gecko) Version/5.0.2 Mobile/8L1 Safari/6533.18.5)

    never used facetime on any of my 4 iDevices ^^
  8. macrumors 6502

    Oct 26, 2007
    Wow. That was a really emotional and good commercial. Especially the end with the deaf couple.
  9. macrumors newbie

    Sep 21, 2011
    Apple's pitch for end to end encryption in FaceTime because of HIPAA

    Great sales pitch but let's get things straight :

    At this moment there are no stated rules within HIPAA Security Rule with regard to encryption for videoconferencing. Yeah I know its crazy and it should be, but the bottom line is : videoconferencing between a covered entity and an individual that does not involve data storage, recording, or archiving is not subject to the HIPAA Security Rule since the transmission is not considered electronic protected health information. So much for the marketing end to end encryption of the video to make it HIPAA compliant. Its good to have but not required by HIPPA :). So much for advertising using the big bad HIPAA as a pretext.

    If the iOS device is used to store PHI or access it through a network then the security of the device itself and the access to the PHI is in play and needs to be adressed. The problem is the device not the videoconferencing application...

    I'd be more scared of people stealing the doctor's iOS device and perusing my PHI then a hacker that would try to hack a hospital network and or the doctor iOS device to listen in on a videoconference. Too much work for little gain.

    Bottom line
  10. macrumors 68020


    Mar 22, 2004
    The Great White North
    Great, but I wouldn't normally share my phone number with patients, in order to protect my family's privacy, and most docs I know have similar opinions. Of course, there are always exceptions, depending on the circumstances.
  11. macrumors 68020


    Jun 4, 2009
    No need. FaceTime can be called using an email address.
  12. macrumors Core


    Feb 9, 2008
    San Jose (CA)
    What's with the Asian girls hooking up with white dudes for citizenship? :eek:
  13. macrumors regular


    May 30, 2010
    I'm everywhere & you're never there
    Awww... hang in there buddy :(


    i think its more for a physician to consult the patient in the hospital from his device to the hospitals device when he is not on site, not necessarily for you to facetime a patient at home

    sort of why they mention the hospital wifi encryption which patients would not have access to
  14. macrumors 6502


    Nov 23, 2006
    We had a project recently about sharing video and image information for medical purposes. It was canceled simply because if there was just one single false diagnosis ever because for example of wrong color correction, false illumination, a compression artifact, a miscolorization of the lense, false perspective, heck even just holding the device rotated by an angle, etc, there would be lawsuits up their asses. Remote diagnosis is not going to happen very soon. At least not with doctors which are serious about medicine.
  15. mkrishnan, Sep 22, 2011
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2011

    Moderator emeritus


    Jan 9, 2004
    Grand Rapids, MI, USA
    Actually a lot of telehealth interest has to do with patients who live too far away from specialists. NPR did a piece on neurologists specializing in Parkinson's doing videoconferencing with patients in a remote part of the NE who were just too far away from a Parkinson's specialist.

    When I did telehealth, it involved providing services from a doctor's office to a doctor's office -- I was at our main clinic and the patients were at a local doctor's office where the VA had put the hardware, but they didn't have the specialist available to see them. A lot of times they do this so someone can do something like get blood pressure or heart rate, if necessary, and also so that there are less IT issues.

    Otherwise, the other typical scenario is that the doctor is at his/her office and the patient is at their home.

    I guess I could see the scenario where the doctor is the one at home... that would probably mostly be videoconferencing between providers, like two surgeons talking about a case, with one surgeon in an operating theatre and the other one, who has the subject expertise, perhaps at home.

    EDIT: Apple's compelling offer is that they're end to end, and all this is installed on the computers already, not to mention interoperable with iOS devices. Otherwise, webcam videoconferencing is one of those ridiculous things where almost everyone has the hardware and almost no one does it.
  16. macrumors newbie

    Mar 9, 2009
    Who at Apple should we contact about TeleHeath?
  17. macrumors G5


    Jun 27, 2007
    Bottom line, you signed up just to post an unsubstantiated opinion.

    You know that you can get a new number / email ONLY for hospital purposes?
  18. macrumors 6502

    May 25, 2011

  19. comegetsome, Sep 22, 2011
    Last edited by a moderator: Sep 23, 2011

    macrumors newbie

    Sep 21, 2011
    Not an unsubstantiated opinion... if you have better facts put them out there

    My 'opinion' was guided by the facts that existing rules within the HIPPA security rule are based on the notion of electronic protected health information and that interactions with a patient through videoconferencing doesn't necessarily fits into this unless you record it (or other data) and stored it on an electronic information systems that maintain protected health information. It all boils down to defining what is personal health information... and where its stored and accessed.

    I am not a HIPPA expert (I am from Canada- insert joke here) but I have been a member of the American Telemedicine Association (ATA) for the last 4 years, currently a professor at a school of medicine and I have been directly involved in multiple clinical trials of in home telecare based on videoconferencing for the last 7 years. I know a bit about telemedicine, its context of use and technology. I don't know however all of the intricacies of HIPPA.

    The same question on the need for encryption of videoconferencing in HIPPA was raised in a discussion forum at ATA. Nobody from that pool of 'experts' could come up with a clear statement within the HIPAA security rule that specify the need for encryption of videoconferencing. Multiple people in that discussion forum put forward references that videoconferencing was excluded from the security rules because :

    "paper-to-paper" faxes, person-to-person telephone calls, video teleconferencing, or messages left on voice-mail were not in electronic form before the transmission, those activities are not covered by this rule".

    We couldn't find this statement in the HIPPA rule but it is also referenced on
    the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) website:

    I was thus not expressing a 'unsubstantiated opinion'.

    It was however a jab at a marketing campaign from a vendor that exploits something that is still not clearly expressed as a requirement under the existing HIPPA security rule. Encryption is good thing in itself, forget about HIPPA.

    You have better facts put them out there...
  20. macrumors 68020


    Mar 22, 2004
    The Great White North
    Yes, of course, serves me right for posting at the end of a 24 hr shift. Must...engage...brain...before...posting... :eek:
  21. JAT
    macrumors 603

    Dec 31, 2001
    Mpls, MN
    Um, how do the patients make appointments if you don't give out your phone number? Business must be slow.
  22. macrumors 68020


    Mar 22, 2004
    The Great White North
    Patients would not be phoning my office number to use FaceTime; it's hard enough already to get through to book appointments. I was referring to my personal number (my iPhone number is not my office number).
  23. macrumors 6502

    Jul 19, 2011
  24. macrumors newbie

    Mar 9, 2009
    There are stated rules within the reimbursement codes that favor encrypted video over non encrypted.
  25. macrumors 68030


    Sep 3, 2010
    sorry, but youre wrong. specs are "features", not the "benefits" (of said features). the sizzle is always selling the benefits, not the features. this is an ad law that predates your existence on the planet. sorry.

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