As coughs and body aches drive anxious Americans to telemed services in record numbers, relieving the burden on medical facilities stressed to breaking with COVID-19 cases, the subsequent relaxation of privacy requirements puts them at risk of PHI compromises, cyberattacks and privacy violations.

The shift to online medicine has resulted in the dissemination of a massive amount of personal health information (PHI), a treasured target of cybercriminals, a trend that's likely to persist until health officials get the virus in hand. American Well, a provider of telehealth services, said across all states its patient visit volume is up about 257 percent over what is normal this time of year. Two of the country's biggest COVID-19 hotspots are showing much larger increases with Washington State up about 700 percent and New York by 312 percent.

The federal government has already taken the important step of deciding health issues outweigh other concerns. The Office for Civil Rights (OCR) at the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), which is responsible for enforcing certain regulations issued under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), as amended by the Health Information Technology for Economic and Clinical Health (HITECH) Act.

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