The health and medical field is one of the most heavily regulated industries in the country, and with good reason.

However, this oversight does make it challenging at times to find answering service vendors for a doctor’s office, medical multi-practice office or other healthcare facility. There are strict regulations that medical offices need to comply with – particularly when it comes to interacting with patients and taking personal information.

The World Of HIPAA Compliance

HIPAA privacy regulations are complex but important. They are designed to protect the health information of patients – including past, current and future medical care. Healthcare billing, payment information, demographic information and information about health and healthcare treatments are all covered under the HIPAA laws. Medical and healthcare offices are required to follow HIPAA guidelines, and the business associates they work with are as well.

Business associates are any vendors that provide services that deal with patient information of any form. Medical answering services, for example, are an example of a business associate. Since they deal directly with patients over the phone (and patient information), it’s important to select a medical answering service that understands the law and how to comply with it.

A virtual call center for medical practices should use rigorous due diligence to maintain compliance and stay on top of changes in the law. For example, with the introduction of mobile data technology, more medical professionals are using their smartphones and tablets to access important information. Medical virtual call centers need to be responsible for transferring this information via SMS text in a secure and compliant way. Staying HIPAA compliant is an active process. As new communication technology is introduced, medical answering services need to innovate in order to keep calls secure.

HIPAA-Compliance Messaging

Finding a medical answering service that offers HIPAA compliant messaging can help medical offices stay within the law and reduce the strain on in-office staff. With a virtual receptionist service in place, in-office staff can focus on the patients in front of them and rely on the secure messaging system.

Here’s how it works:

  • Incoming calls are taken by well-trained medical answering professionals who create a message for the medical office staff;
  • The secure messaging center saves the message and lets the medical office staff know via text or email that they have a new secure message;
  • The medical office staff logs into a secure web portal to view messages and retrieves messages under HIPAA laws.

Before selecting a vendor for your incoming calls, be sure that the medical answering service is HIPAA compliant. It’s an essential!