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Skype or Vsee

April 1, 2018

For the moment, I use either Skype or VSee for remote work. They both work well but have slight differences regarding to privacy and convenience. I wrote the main comparison here for your reference and you are free to choose the one that you feel more comfortable to use for our sessions. 


I assume most of you are quite familiar with the basic features of Skype, so I'll skip that and start with VSee. VSee is a free software that you download, install on your computer and use as easily as Skype. It is widely used as a secured platform for web communication that is 'HIPAA-compliant" in U.S., while Skype is not. What is 'HIPAA-compliant"? 


HIPAA stands for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) of United States. "HIPAA-compliant" means the tool meets the high standard of HIPPA in regards to data protection. Skype is stated in U.S. as not 'HIPAA-compliant' and therefore must not be used for psychotherapy (PlusGuidance, 2015). A Skype spokesperson has been quoted online, confirming that Skype is not HIPAA-compliant (Online Therapy Institute, 2013). Concerns seem to be mainly about Skype not guaranteeing sufficiently to safeguard the privacy of the identity and personal details of those making Skype calls. In addition, no one really knows what Skype does or does not do with user data. If government branches store Skype metadata, then user's information may be revealing that they talk to a therapist even if they don't want to make a revelation. 

The United Kingdom Council for Psychotherapy (UKCP), appears to have taken the view that Skype is not acceptable for therapy, because of doubts about its security (Weitz, 2014a). Other important organizations in the filed, such as The British Psychological Society (BPS), the Health and Care Professions Council (HCPC), and the British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP), however, have yet to issue guidance about Skype therapy. UK's Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) does not take any view on the use of Skype for psychotherapy yet either(ICO, 2015).

 

The same unsourced Skype spokesperson whose quotation is cited previously as evidence of Skype's HIPAA noncompliance, also states that “Skype encrypts the conversation from beginning to end”, “conversations that takes place on Skype are not recorded, even on our servers, including Skype chat" and "as voice calls are encrypted, Skype can not be tapped like telephones, hacked like email, or intercepted like conventional postal services". 

 

It seems to me that Skype is still widely accepted as a tool for web-counselling in U.K while VSee has a higher security level. Skype can be more convenient if one already has it and does not want to have extra software installed. In the end, it is down to the point of how you would like to balance privacy and convenience.

 

If you do not have any of these two software, here are the links for you to download:

VSee: https://vsee.com/

Skype: https://www.skype.com/en/  

 

 

 

Debbie,H., David H., Skype therapy: More or less confidential than traditional therapy? on 19th, April, 2018

 

Online Therapy Institute (2013). Videoconferencing- secure, encrypted, HIPAA compliant. Retrieved from http://onlinetherapyinstitute.com/2011/03/01/videoconferencing-secure-encryptedhipaa-compliant/ on 7th December 2015.

 

PlusGuidance (2015). Authority figures oppose the use of Skype for online therapy. Retrieved from https://plusguidance.com/provider-guides/authority-figures-oppose-the-use-of-skype-for-onlinetherapy on 7th December 2015.

 

Weitz, P. (2014a). Psychotherapy 2.0: where psychotherapy and technology meet. The Psychotherapist: The magazine of the UK Council for Psychotherapy, 56, 34-36.

 

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