Running a medical office means supporting your patients, even when you’re busy doing other things.

That’s why medical answering services make such a good partner for medical professionals, but not every company that claims to be an answering service company is equipped or prepared for the extra challenges that a medical office faces. There are a number of extra things to consider before making the final decision, but these insider tips can help you choose the best medical answering service for your office:

  1. You’ll want 24/7/365 answering service. Medical professionals, unlike lawyers, merchants and drycleaners, absolutely have to be reachable any time of the day or night. Since you’re not going to necessarily be around at 2 am when one of your patients has an urgent medical question, it’s important to have an answering service that can act in your stead.

    Whether you instruct your service to forward that call to you immediately or to work through a set of steps to determine if the patient should be sent to the Emergency Room or simply make an appointment for the next day, your patient will appreciate the caring voice on the other end of the phone. A 24/7 medical answering service can also help with busy times of the day by taking your overflow calls instead of forcing patients to voicemail.

  1. HIPAA-compliancy isn’t optional. Sure, it might save a few dollars to choose a standard answering service that doesn’t provide specific medical answering services, but that cost savings will catch up to you quickly. When a medical office hires an answering service, a special relationship is created that turns an answering service into your HIPAA Business Associate.

    Your relationship with your HIPAA Business Associate means that you’re responsible for the way they choose to handle confidential patient information, even if you don’t know there’s a problem. According to the American Medical Association’s website, there can be significant penalties for violating HIPAA even if you didn’t know you (or your Associate) have done so. This is why it’s so important to find a medical answering service that works with medical facilities and offices regularly, and that can guarantee HIPAA compliance.

  1. Data security should be priority one. You know it’s important to hire an answering service company that knows what it takes to be HIPAA-compliant, but it can’t be stressed enough how important data security really is. A company that follows all basic HIPAA rules to the letter can still be putting your data at risk by using outdated technology, waiting to apply system updates or even delaying data security training for their employees.

Check out your potential medical answering service by asking a lot of questions about its computer systems, encryption technology and training. If the service can’t guarantee that it is running the most recent version of their operating system and anti-virus software, you should keep shopping.

When you’re ready to hire a professional medical answering service, it’s smart to take a little advice from people who know the industry inside and out. These insider tips can help you ensure that your future answering service will meet your patients’ needs and protect their health information just like you would.