If you are a healthcare professional, you probably already know about the importance of HIPAA when it comes to communication and technology. But if you are considering outsourcing your phone answering needs to a medical answering service, you will want to make 100% sure they are HIPAA-compliant. Here we will discuss HIPAA-compliant medical answering services, HIPAA law, warning signs to look out for, and 3 of the best medical answering services.
What is a HIPAA-Compliant Medical Answering Service?
If you run a medical practice, you likely already know that you have two choices when it comes to managing phone communication – keeping it in-house or outsourcing to a professional call center or answering service. Many healthcare facilities today are choosing to partner with a medical answering service to save time, money, and in-house resources. Learn more about medical answering services.
But before you choose a medical answering service, it’s crucial to ensure they are HIPAA-compliant and are dedicated to protecting patient medical records (EMR). HIPAA-compliant medical answering services should be able to offer the perfect balance between efficiently helping patients, offering great customer service, and obliging 100% by HIPAA’s privacy laws.
It’s important to make sure your chosen medical answering service has procedures in place to follow HIPAA law during every phone call on your practice’s behalf. In addition to this, the answering service should have HIPAA-compliant software and HIPAA training in place to ensure full compliance.
How Does HIPAA Impact Phone Communication?
By law, every medical practice needs to follow HIPAA compliance rules and regulations. The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) states that healthcare facilities must keep patient data and medical records/information absolutely protected and private. Now that there is so much technology available to medical practices, such as medical management software and VoIP phone systems, healthcare professionals must take measures to ensure all their communication and technology is 100% HIPAA-compliant.
Title II of HIPAA impacts phone communication at medical practices, which includes any medical answering service that the practice might use. This means that no matter whether you’re handling your phone answering needs in-office or outsourcing, you have to make sure whoever is handling your phone-based communication is following HIPAA laws. Medical answering services should be fully trained in HIPAA-compliance, use HIPAA-compliant software, and be able to guarantee with certainty that they will be able to protect and secure patient information.
Note that if you use a different appointment setting service and medical answering service, you will need to make sure both services are HIPAA-compliant.
Signs a Medical Answering Service is NOT HIPAA-Compliant
When researching medical answering services, make sure to look out for “warning signs” that indicate the service is NOT HIPAA-compliant. Normally, if an answering service is fully HIPAA-compliant, they will communicate it transparently on their website. But if you cannot easily find HIPAA information about a particular medical answering service, look out for these warning signs:
- They lack HIPAA-Compliant certification. Most of the time, if a company is HIPAA certified, they will include this on their website. If you cannot locate a HIPAA compliance certification, make sure to call the company and ask for it. If they cannot provide you with certification, beware of using this company.
- They release patient information via phone/text. One of the #1 rules when it comes to HIPAA compliant answering services is that they cannot release patient medical information over phone or text. Releasing such information MUST be secure and use data encryption. Be especially skeptical of text messages, as texts usually do not use encrypted or secure data.
- They do not use a HIPAA training program. Make sure to ask the company which HIPAA training program they use for their agents. If the company does not regularly train their employees to follow HIPAA law, be careful of partnering with them.
Which Companies offer HIPAA-Compliant Services?
Research is so important when it comes to choosing a medical answering service. Luckily, with good research, you can find a highly accredited, reliable, and HIPAA-compliant medical answering service. In fact, there’s tons of great HIPAA-compliant services on the market, and many can save you tons of time and money when it comes to phone answering needs! Here’s a list of the top 3 HIPAA-compliant answering services that we recommend.
1. MAP Communications
MAP Communications is a professional call center and phone answering service that services both small businesses and fortune 500 businesses. They offer medical answering services in addition to answering services for other industries.
- HIPAA-compliant: yes
- Best for: Large medical practices (but they can service small practices too)
- Top advantage: Allows you to add on services in addition to phone answering
- Industries serviced: Addiction recovery, chiropractors, dentists, physicians, optometrists, hospice, hospitals, small clinics, mental health, veterinarians, and more
TeleMed is a dedicated medical answering service exclusively helping the healthcare industry. They offer 24/7 coverage, live operators, web services, appointment setting, mobile apps, and more.
- HIPAA-compliant: yes
- Best for: Flexible communication
- Top advantage: TeleMed App for patient communication
- Industries serviced: Physicians, hospitals, dental, community health centers, large health clinics, and more
AnswerFirst is one of the best phone answering services that works with the healthcare industry. In addition to medical answering services, they also offer other communication assistance such as live transferring, message taking, appointment setting, virtual receptionists, voicemail services, and more.
- HIPAA-compliant: yes
- Best for: 24/7 service and omni-channel patient support
- Top advantage: Tons of available software integrations
- Industries serviced: From solo practitioners to hospitals. Learn more.
If you are exploring HIPAA-compliant medical answering services for your practice, you might also benefit from the following for your medical practice:
If you want to compare prices for a HIPAA-compliant medical answering service, we can help! Simply use our free online comparison tool to match with HIPAA-compliant medical answering service catered to your needs.