Many people believe that the benefit of having a medical answering service is just to have after-hours calls answered in case of an emergency. However, in this day and age, the benefits and responsibilities are far more complex and important. Here’s what you need to know if you’re considering hiring a medical answering service:
It’s essential that any medical answering service is dedicated to being HIPAA compliant. This refers to the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996, and any physician or medical practice that doesn’t adhere to HIPAA regulations is liable for fines ranging from $100 to $50,000 per violation, with an annual maximum of $1.5 million.
Specially Trained Staff
Any reputable medical answering service must properly train and test their call representatives every 6 months. There are tools available for medical answering services to use to test their employees. One highly recommended tool to do this is from Association of TeleServices International (ATSI) called HIPAA/HITECH Compliance Assistance Toolkit. It ensures that agents are thoroughly trained and tested to adhere to the rigorous compliance regulations so that every patient’s health information remains private.
Because of HIPAA regulations, all messages taken by the medical answering service should be dispatched to physicians using some type of secure messaging system. There are still medical answering services texting (SMS) these messages, but text messaging is not considered secure under the HIPAA High-Tech regulation.
Secure messaging means the message is encrypted on both the transmitting and receiving end and is never stored on a mobile device. For examples, Voice Link of Columbus Inc. uses the MiSecure app, which keeps medical messages secure and separate from physicians’ personal messages. With the MiSecure app, the physician can document notes on the message for staff to put in the patient’s chart, which is a substantial time saver for the physician and their staff members.
Medical answering services should provide an online portal to all their medical clients. A web portal has several offers several benefits for medical practitioners, including:
- Staff members can view all messages that the medical answering service has taken.
- Staff can see all notes the physician has added to each message.
- The staff has the ability to send secure messages to the physician.
- The physician or staff has the ability to add to or change the on-call schedule.
These are just 4 features that any physician or medical practice should look for when choosing the right medical answering service. These are important for the security, success, and long-term best interest of your practice.
Voice Link of Columbus, Inc. was launched nearly 30 years ago in order to fulfill the need for advanced telecommunication solutions and call answering services specifically for the medical field. Owner and CFO JoAnn Fussell had been a radiologist and had experienced first-hand the needs and demands of a high-caliber medical answering service. She had the opportunity to be a part of the development of the Association of TeleServices International’s HIPAA/HITECH Compliance Assistance Toolkit because of her educational background in the medical field.
Operating out of Columbus, GA, Voice Link of Columbus, Inc. has earned an 82% referral rate for medical telecommunication needs, including call answering, secure messaging, and appointment scheduling services that save clients’ valuable time and money while improving patient satisfaction and loyalty.