Telehealth Platforms: Security and additional information for PACFA members

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Page last updated 1st May 2020

Providing Counselling and Psychotherapy online

As the COVID-19 pandemic response unfolds, there has been increasing awareness of and interest in the security offered by various web-based communications platforms for the provision of telehealth. Many PACFA members have joined other health and allied health professionals using online platforms to deliver client services remotely and the relative security and privacy of platforms has attracted media interest and comment.

PACFA provides a range of supports for our members to deliver services remotely, including a detailed course, “How to provide counselling and psychotherapy using online technologies”, delivered over four two-hour webinars. PACFA members can also access information on the basics of delivering online therapy, including how to prepare yourself and your clients, and on informed consent when working online, via our password-protected Member Resources page.

Security and privacy of commonly used online platforms for telehealth

Since social distancing measures have been enforced across Australia and in the wake of increasing media attention, PACFA has received questions and feedback from members inquiring about the relative security (encryption measures) and privacy (data usage and retention measures) of several leading online communication platforms, including Skype and Zoom.

Below is a table linking to available information on the current security (encryption) and privacy (data usage and storage) measures used by some of the leading online platforms. The developers of each platform are constantly working to improve the security, particularly with the increased global scrutiny during the COVID-19 pandemic response. It is worthwhile to regularly check the security of the platform or platforms you are using to deliver services.

Each platform has security and privacy settings that the user can manage for every conversation or meeting you host. The level of security available may depend on whether you and your client both have the application downloaded on your devices, or whether your client is using a computer or a mobile phone to access the application.

PACFA recommends that all members using online platforms to deliver services familiarise themselves with how to provide the most secure connection for yourself and your client, including ensuring your clients are provided with a secure connection if they are accessing your services via mobile phone.

 

Platform

Security & Privacy

Further Information

Coviu

Coviu’s Video Call feature uses end to end encryption for every consultation. For more information on data security via Coviu, click here. A Privacy Statement is also available.

Coviu is an Australia-designed platform that was developed as a specialist telehealth application.  An independent third-party assessment of Coviu compared to other online conferencing and telehealth platforms is available here.

Go To Meeting

Go To Meeting has SOC3 security certification. Details of Security and privacy measures are available here.

Go To Meeting by Log Me In is a global online meeting platform used by many Australian organisations. It is not a Telehealth specific platform, but does offer free resources and supports for a range of service providers during the COVID-19 response, including Health Care providers. For more information click here.

Skype (Microsoft)

Skype now features industry-standard end to end encryption if you select a “private” conversation. For more on Skype’s features click here.

Skype and Skype for Business have made rapid changes to security measures over the last year. When hosting a meeting or conference, you can select a ‘private’ conversation to ensure end to end encryption.  The level of privacy and security available may differ, however, depending on whether participants in a conversation are using the Skype app, or accessing the conversation via a mobile phone.

Zoom

Zoom protects content using Advanced Encryption Standard (AES) 256. For Information on current privacy and security measures used by Zoom, and tips and tricks on how to host a secure Zoom meeting, are available here.

Zoom is a US based company which holds the largest global market share in online communications. Like Skype, Zoom has rapidly upgraded its security and privacy measures, after coming under increased scrutiny during the COVID-19 response.

Like Skype, Zoom has a range of security and privacy options available which are controlled by the host of each meeting.

Which platform should I chose?

PACFA believes that our members should be able to make informed decisions to best suit their business and personal safety and security needs and to meet the needs of their clients.

The majority of online communications platforms commonly used and listed in the table above have been developed by global companies for general communications purposes, including personal communications, securely hosting and recording meetings, interviewing potential employees, hosting webinars and providing other forms of interactive training and communications online.

However, there is one platform which has been specifically designed for the delivery of remote client services in the Australian health system. Coviu is an Australian developed platform designed specifically for the delivery of Telehealth, and is used by the Australian Government through HealthDirect. Coviu has written a short comparative article on how Coviu compares to Skype and Zoom.

PACFA has secured a 20% discount for PACFA Registrants who wish to take up a subscription to Coviu. PACFA Registrants have been sent an email with this special offer with the discount code.

 

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