While many people think that understanding the benefits of a medical answering service is just to have someone answer the phone for doctors after hours when there is an emergency, in today’s world the benefits are far more complex and important. Here are some of the things that you should know and consider when thinking of engaging a medical answering service partner:
It is essential that the Medical Answering Service is serious about being HIPAA Compliant. I am referring to The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996.
Is staff training provided by my Answering Service Partner?
The Answering Service staff needs to be properly trained and tested every 6 months. There are tools available for Medical Answering Services to use to test their employees. One that I highly recommend is from Association of TeleServices International (ATSI) called HIPAA/HITECH Compliance Assistance Toolkit. I had the opportunity to be a part for the development of this program because of my educational background in the Medical field.
Are the messages received and transmitted “Secure Messages”?
Messages taken by the medical answering service should be dispatched to the Doctor’s using some type of Secure Messaging system. There are still Medical Answering Services Texting (SMS) these messages.
Text messaging is not considered secure under the HIPAA High-Tech. Secure messaging means the message is never stored on a mobile device. Physicians have told us they really enjoy the MiSecure app since their personal messages are no longer combined with their medical messages. With the MiSecure app the Physician can document notes on the message for their staff to put in the patients chart. This feature is truly a time saver benefit for the Physician and their staff members. I will tell about the other features available the MiSecure app in my next blog.
Does your Answering Service have a Web-Portal?
Medical Answering Services should provide a web-portal to all their Medical offices. The web-portal has several features that a Medical office can use.
• Staff members can see the messages that the Medical Answering service has taken.
• The Medical office staff can see the notes the Physician added to each message.
• The staff will also have the ability to send the Physician secure messages from the web-portal.
• The Physician or Staff member can put in or change the on call schedule.
This is just a few of the features that you should look for when choosing the right medical answering service. There are many more and all are important to the success, security, and long-term best interest of your practice. Don’t rush to a decision. Take the time to understand how technology has changed the landscape and raised the bar of every answering service who serves the medical community.