Medical practices of all types are required by law to be HIPAA-compliant. This includes, but is not limited to, physicians, urgent care clinics, dentists, chiropractors, optometrists, podiatrists, surgeons, psychologists, and nursing homes. Additionally, the third-party vendors that medical practices partner with, such as a call answering service, must be HIPAA-compliant.
When choosing a medical answering service to partner with, it’s imperative that your practice selects one that is HIPAA-compliant. This ensures that the live agents who are handling protected health information (PHI) have been trained on, and are adhering to, all HIPAA requirements and privacy procedures.
Who Needs a HIPAA-Compliant Medical Answering Service?
In busy medical offices, the phones never seem to stop ringing. During business hours and after hours, dozens of customers call each day to schedule appointments, get test results, refill prescriptions, seek medical advice, and discuss their health. No matter how many receptionists your office employs, it may still be challenging to make sure that all patients are receiving excellent customer service, especially at night and on weekends.
To keep up with the number of calls that their office receives, many medical practices turn to an answering service. Outsourcing to a leading call answering service enables healthcare practices to provide premium patient care without having to hire and train additional in-house employees. However, because much of the information discussed on these calls are confidential, it’s important to partner with a HIPAA-compliant medical answering service.
What kind of patient information is protected by a HIPAA-compliant medical answering service?
As a healthcare professional, protecting the confidential health information of your patients needs to be a top priority. You cannot afford for it to be exposed or mishandled in any way, as this can result in fines as high as $50,000 per violation and the loss of trust and confidence.
By partnering with a HIPAA-compliant medical answering service, here is the type of patient information that you can rest assured will be protected:
- Any personal data that can directly or indirectly identify an individual. This can include names, birth dates, diagnoses, treatments, and more.
- Conversations between a patient and a doctor or nurse about his or her health status, diagnosis, or treatment. Additionally, any information that a patient may discuss with a receptionist or live agent that contains details regarding the patient’s health.
- A patient’s billing information
- Medical information in the patient’s health insurance company’s database
What other types of businesses need to be HIPAA-compliant?
As we mentioned above, the third-party vendors that healthcare practices partner with must also be HIPAA-compliant. In addition to HIPAA-compliant medical answering services, here are some other types of vendors that may handle protected health information:
- Shredding companies
- Billing companies
- Medical transcription services
- Professional translator services
- Medical device companies
- IT contractors
Put it this way; if the company is handling protected health information, they most likely are required to be HIPAA-compliant. While it may seem cheaper and easier to partner with a vendor that isn’t HIPAA-compliant, it is in the best interest of your medical practice and your patients to choose one that is.