In 2020, over 29 million healthcare records were exposed or impermissibly disclosed. It was the third worst year on record, and large data breaches were up 25% from 2019.
Although healthcare organizations likely come to mind as the culprits, they are not the only ones to blame. Across several key industries, many companies may soon be hit with hefty fines for violating HIPAA regulations.
Do I need a HIPAA-compliant answering service?
While HIPAA compliance typically makes people think of hospitals and physicians’ offices, the regulations extend to many non-medical businesses. If your business handles protected health information (PHI), then your business is in the chain of trust, and then it is essential that you are HIPAA compliant. If you partner with a third-party vendor such as a live answering service, it’s essential that they are also HIPAA-compliant. With that said, here are four industries that may need to partner with HIPAA-compliant answering services:
Below we will explain in more detail how and why these four industries may need to partner with a HIPAA-compliant answering service.
It goes without saying that all healthcare providers- from doctors, to dentists, to nursing homes, to pharmacies- must be HIPAA compliant. These healthcare providers are known as Covered Entities. And as of September 2013, the Business Associates of Covered Entities are also directly liable for compliance with certain HIPAA requirements. This includes phone answering services that will be speaking with patients and handling PHI. Our medical answering service is fully compliant with HIPAA, giving you peace of mind with patient privacy.
When PHI is being handled, HIPAA-compliant answering services aren’t just nice to have– they’re required by law. Nobody understands this better than lawyers and attorneys. Law firms that would likely require a HIPAA compliant legal answering service include those that are entrusted with accessing PHI for personal injury, workers’ compensation, medical malpractice, and insurance purposes.
If your agency specializes in health or life insurance or handles medical records for any other reason, the answering service that you partner with should be HIPAA compliant. Chances are that PHI may end up being discussed on a call, so it’s important to have a partner that understands the importance of patient privacy and is committed to full compliance.
Finance and accounting
If your business provides accounting, auditing, or other financial services to healthcare providers and handles PHI, the answering service that you partner with may need to be HIPAA compliant. Our accounting answering service understands the need to be extra cautious about maintaining the confidentiality and security of sensitive records.
Who else might need a HIPAA-compliant answering service?
In addition to law firms, insurance companies, and finance and accounting agencies, here are some other examples of Business Associates who may need to partner with an answering service that is HIPAA compliant:
- Medical billing companies
- IT service providers
- Medical record shredding services
- Professional translator services
As a fully compliant HIPAA Business Associate, the Answering Service Care team’s top priority is to provide the highest level of customer service while also maintaining the privacy and patient security standards for every caller.