In this commentary, physicians’ argue for an immediate digital revolution and regulation overhaul to address the surge of COVID-19.
The U.S. health care system needs to move away from its current ill-equipped analogue system to a more robust digital system to effectively address COVID-19. Transforming the current health care delivery system is required to lessen the spread of the virus. To begin this transition, the Office of Civil Rights announced that it will not impose penalties for using HIPAA-noncompliant private communication technologies during this public health emergency. Although an important first step, additional steps need to be taken, including expanded regulatory relief, reimbursement for new digital services, and evaluation of clinical care provided through these technologies. Exploring different ways of caring for patients is required, including hospital-at-home models; video visits; text, email, and mobile-phone applications; wearable devices; remote-monitoring services; etc. An immediate emergency update of privacy and communication regulations as well as reimbursement structures is necessary so that existing tools can be put to use. Assessing clinical productivity using these new approaches will be critical to understanding whether emergency authorizations should be made permanent after this crisis.