What To Know About Your Medical Call Answering Service & HIPAA
If you work in the healthcare industry, you already know how imperative it is to protect your patient’s health information (PHI) in compliance with the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA). Even if a PHI breach is unintentional, your practice can be fined up to $1.5 million, so it goes without saying that it is absolutely necessary that you and your staff are HIPAA compliant— and this includes your call answering service.
Voice Link of Columbus, Inc., was founded by medical professionals to address this need and offers these tips to understand what you need to know to make sure your answering service is truly HIPAA compliant.
1. Know what “trained” really means
Answering services can claim to be HIPAA trained and operated, but dig into what this means to determine if you could be at risk for a HIPAA violation. Ask to speak with the service’s HIPAA compliance officer about how many operators are HIPAA trained and how often their education is updated and tested. Ask for detailed information about how messages are transmitted, stored, or destroyed. Understand what kind of access you have to all the information concerning your patients and your business.
And by all means, choose a live answering service over an automated call center—your patients will feel more secure giving their information to a live person versus an automated voice, and the information you receive is likely to be far more accurate and complete.
2. Encrypted, on both ends
It’s not uncommon for healthcare professionals to assume that if they receive a text or email from a third party, such as an answering service, they aren’t responsible for HIPAA violations on that end. This isn’t true. Physicians are responsible for the secure and confidential transmission of PHI on both the sending and receiving end of any data. If an answering service sends a text with patient information, it may be encrypted on their end but not on the physician’s screen. Your answering service must clearly identify how PHI is securely encrypted on both ends of all communication.
3. Consider the advantages in staff & technology
Think of your answering service as part of your staff, and verify that they’re trained to handle your patient data by following the same rigorous regulations you do. Top medical answering services today are able to provide greater security and reliability through a team of HIPAA trained virtual receptionists and advanced technology used to legally record and transmit information.
Voice Link, for example, offers a secure communication app that lets care-providers text patient information without putting patient PHI at risk. This app allows the provider to send secure messages to other providers or to all members of their group. The provider can also attach their dictation right on that message using this app. The message can be downloaded right into the patient electric chart. Meanwhile, you and your team have more time to focus on the care your patients are seeking.
Voice link offers 26 years of experience in HIPAA trained medical live answering services, and our expert staff and state-of-the-art technology will exceed your expectations. Request information online or call us at (800) 262-2799 for a free consultation.