Many answering services claim to specialize in serving the medical and healthcare field, but all too often this is a weak assertion at best if not downright false, which can become a real liability. Part of the problem is that those working in the medical field—like practice managers or doctors—don’t know how to fully assess an answering service that claims to specialize in medical issues.
Many people assume that a medical answering service just answers the phone for doctors after hours in case of an emergency. However, both the responsibilities and benefits of a truly specialized medical answering service are far more complex and important.
Here are two essential components that any healthcare business or medical practice should confirm when considering hiring a medical answering service:
Exactly How Are They HIPAA Trained And Compliant?
Yes, any answering service claiming to specialize in working with doctors will claim they are HIPAA compliant, but get to the bottom of what this means because HIPAA compliance is not something to take lightly. Any violation puts your patient’s information and your practice at risk, so it’s essential that a medical answering service is diligent about being HIPAA trained and compliant. This means that each receptionist and the staff managers must be properly trained and tested every six months.
Ask which tools a medical answering service uses to test their employees. JoAnn Fussell, Founder and CFO of Voice Link of Columbus, Inc., highly recommends a resource from the Association of TeleServices International (ATSI) called HIPAA/HITECH Compliance Assistance Toolkit. In fact, because of her background in the medical field, Fussell had the opportunity to weigh in on the development of this program and utilizes it for the professional training of each of her staff members.
Exactly How Are Messages Handled To Ensure Security?
Are the messages the answering service receives and transmits truly secure? There are still medical answering services out there that are texting messages with patients’ information to doctors and staff members. Text messaging is not considered secure under the HIPAA/HITECH compliance requirements.
Messages taken by a medical answering service should be dispatched to the doctors or medical staff using some type of dedicated secure messaging system, that’s encrypted on both the sending and receiving ends. For example, Voice Link uses state-of-the-art technology with the YourVoiceLink MiSecure Mobile App. This HIPAA and HITECH-compliant app replaces paging with two-way instant and secure messages that can be sent to a physician’s smartphone or any other mobile device.
By encrypting information on both sending and receiving ends, the MiSecure mobile app ensures that every bit of data remains confidential, while still allowing access to receiving and responding to important or time-sensitive messages. Physicians can even send secure messages to colleagues from this app and document notes on a message for their staff to put in a patient’s chart. This feature is truly a time saver benefit for the physician and their staff members.
These are just two of the most essential components that a truly specialized medical answering service should provide. There are many more that can improve the success, security, and long-term best interest of your practice. Don’t rush to make 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 and make sure you’re hiring the very best. Your practice and your patients deserve no less.
Voice Link of Columbus, Inc. was started nearly 30 years ago in Columbus, Georgia, to address the need we personally saw and felt for exceptional answering services for the medical field. In fact, we now consider ourselves leaders in the industry for professional medical answering service solutions. We even wrote an eBook about how to find the best live answering service to help you manage and grow your practice, and you can download it for free here.
Voice Link of Columbus, Inc., offers state-of-the-art technology solutions and personalized customer service 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. We offer month-to-month service agreements to meet the needs of any practice or business regardless of size. With an 84% referral rate, our excellent reputation, expert staff, and customized technology will exceed your expectations. Request information online or call us at (800) 262-2799 for a free consultation.