One thing that every successful medical office has in common is a high volume of phone calls that come in at all hours. No matter how many employees you have answering your phones, it can still be difficult to keep up. In an effort to improve the level of care offered to patients, many healthcare providers turn to a medical answering service to handle their telephone answering-related needs.
If you’re thinking about hiring a medical answering service for your healthcare office, keep in mind that the live agents who manage your calls will be handling sensitive patient health information. With that said, it’s very important to partner with an answering service that’s HIPAA-compliant.
What is HIPAA, and what is its purpose?
HIPAA stands for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act, and it was signed into law in 1996 with the overall goal of improving the United States healthcare system by making it more simple, efficient, and less costly. More specifically, here are some of the reasons that HIPAA exists:
- To protect health insurance coverage for workers and their families when they change or lose their jobs
- To improve efficiency in the healthcare industry
- To improve the portability of health insurance
- To protect the privacy of patients and health plan members
- To ensure health information is kept secure and patients are notified of breaches of their health data
What is a HIPAA Compliant Answering Service?
HIPAA regulations, as well as regulations under the HIPAA HITECH umbrella, apply to everyone in the healthcare industry, and any associates they contract with. This means that all medical professionals, as well as all the third-party vendors that they contract with, must adhere to specific guidelines outlined by HIPAA to ensure that the privacy of their patients and their personal health information is protected.
If you’re looking to hire a medical answering service, it’s extremely important to choose a provider that is HIPAA-compliant to protect both your practice and your patients. Unlike a regular call answering service, the employees of a HIPAA-compliant answering service receive specialized training in data security, the latest HIPAA requirements, and the delicate nature of patient privacy.
Here are some of the ways that a HIPAA-compliant medical answering service differs from a regular call answering service:
- HIPAA- compliant answering services prioritize data security over everything else, securing patient information by restricting access and encryption, continually updating hardware and software, performing regular login audits, and taking a variety of other basic security precautions.
- HIPAA- compliant answering services always let callers know how their personal data will be used in the context of the phone call.
- Employees at HIPAA-compliant answering services receive ongoing training to ensure that they are up-to-date on all requirements and privacy procedures.
Why is a HIPAA compliant answering service important?
While a regular answering service that isn’t HIPAA-compliant may initially seem like the more cost-efficient option, they can end up costing your medical practice lots of money in fines, as well as loss of patient confidence, if your patient health information is mishandled.
Answering Service Care is proud to be a HIPAA medical answering service that’s fully compliant with the most recent rules and regulations regarding patients and their personal health information.