From Chiropractors to Dentists and everything in between, all healthcare providers are required to comply with HIPAA guidelines. HIPAA not only applies to operations in the clinic but over the phone as well.
For those that are unaware, HIPAA stands for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act and has been in effect since 1996. The primary purpose of HIPAA, at least as phone communications are concerned, is that patient health information is protected and kept confidential.
Today, as technology continues to advance, it’s more important than ever to ensure that your partners, such as phone answering services, are compliant in safeguarding protected patient health information (PHI).
The Importance of HIPAA Compliant Phone Handling
Having a professional answering service to handle your incoming overflow and after-hours calls is essential for providing excellent customer service and patient care. It’s also critical in capturing potential new patients that could be lost when the phone isn’t answered or goes to voice mail.
You and your staff are probably very skilled at your individual job duties in order to provide the highest level of healthcare achievable. However, being able to address incoming phone calls with patience, understanding, and maintaining HIPAA compliance could be putting a little too much of an extra burden on some team members
Risks of Violating HIPAA
The government takes these laws seriously and any failure to comply can result in serious criminal consequences, in some cases that could mean incarceration. On a more common level, penalties for non-compliance will be financial.
As healthcare providers, sensitive data and HIPAA compliance should always be considered. The risk of a HIPAA violation will affect your clinic the same as if it occurs as the result of an in-clinic team member or through a partner over the phone. Any and all information that can be used to individually identify one of your patients is protected. This includes name, age, date of birth, condition, billing and insurance information, and many other identifiers.
HIPAA Compliant Answering Services
When choosing an answering service for your practice, it’s critically important to choose one that’s HIPAA compliant and prioritizes technology updates, and doesn’t fall behind with this aspect.
In 2013, HIPAA was updated to include service providers to the medical industry also comply with the same privacy and security rules as healthcare providers. This means that when an answering service call center takes messages on behalf of healthcare providers, the information needs to be protected as if it was taken and stored by the clinic staff. Whether the information is being stored and accessed on a desktop computer, cloud database, or email it needs to remain HIPAA compliant at all times. At Midwest Answer, the following efforts are used to stay compliant:
- Training virtual operators & receptionists on privacy procedure adoption
- Inform callers how their personal information will be used
- Maintain secure storage of data with protected access
You can stay HIPAA compliant without sacrificing patient satisfaction by choosing to work with a partner like Midwest Answer, which has a proven track record of investing in adaptive technologies, advanced systems, and continued training for employees.
Keep in mind, there are many telephone answering services out there, but not all of them are HIPAA compliant, and not all of them are US-based. Unlike Midwest Answer, many phone answering services send calls overseas. When you choose to work with Midwest Answer, your patients’ will never have their important information at risk, because we’ve taken the steps required to maintain HIPAA compliance. As your HIPAA compliant Answering Service partner, Midwest Answer will:
- Capture More Calls
- Reduce Hold Time
- Increase Patient Satisfaction & Revenue
Maintaining full HIPAA compliance isn’t just about legal obligations, it’s also about doing the right thing for your patients and your overall clinical practice management. Live Phone handling that’s HIPAA compliant is an essential service, regardless of your size practice or unique mission.
Call us today for more information. 844-720-1115
Midwest Answer provides telephone answering and virtual receptionist services. For nearly 50 years we’ve handled calls for a variety of business sectors, 24/7/365. From call volumes of just a few per week to thousands per day. And entirely within US-based call centers. With simple, flat-rate monthly pricing that doesn’t include contracts or hidden fees.