The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is a well-known reality in the healthcare industry. And though it's often mentioned in the answering service industry, not every answering service understands the nuances and respects the requirements of HIPAA. This is specifically relevant when it comes to protecting information about your patients.
Though most answering services say they understand HIPAA and are compliant, not all treat it seriously. The most telltale sign is whether they offer HIPAA-compliant secure messaging. Make sure your medical answering service only sends texts to you using secure messaging. A failure on their part could have legal, financial, and public relations ramifications on your part. The risk is too big to overlook.
Here's why HIPAA-compliant secure messaging is a critical requirement when it comes to healthcare communications with your medical answering service.
Addresses Patient Privacy Concerns: With reports of massive data breaches in the news on a regular basis, consumers are understandably concerned about the security of their information. Though most of these incursions happen outside the healthcare industry, people don't make the distinction between healthcare and non-healthcare breaches, they just worry that their personal information is at risk.
Avoids Mishandling Protected Health Information: One of the aspects of HIPAA regulations is safeguarding protected health information (PHI). This covers patient data as it is stored and as it is transmitted, which includes receiving text messages from your medical answering service. Though few patients will ask, many may wonder, what are the steps you take to protect their PHI, especially at your answering service?
Handles Your Information with Respect: Being able to confirm with your patients that the information they trust you with is safe and secure goes a long way to giving them the assurances they seek. However, they might wonder about the information they give over the phone to your answering service. How secure is it? What steps does your answering service take to protect their data?
Perhaps the biggest area at risk is when your medical answering service sends text messages about patient calls. Without secure messaging, these texts, and the information they contain, are at risk. HIPAA-compliant text messaging locks down this information and keeps it away from the people who shouldn't access it.
Stands as a Best Practice: Aside from HIPAA requirements, patient privacy concerns, and securing PHI, is the practical reality that using secure messaging is an industry best practice. The leading medical answering services know this and use it. In fact, they been using secure messaging for years. They insist upon it, because they know it's the right thing to do: for them, for you, and for your patients.
Given what's at stake, the importance of HIPAA-compliant text messaging cannot be overstated. Beyond protecting information from improper access, is protecting your public reputation and your patients' confidence in you.
That's why HIPAA-compliant secure messaging is so important. Make sure your medical answering service understands this and provides secure text messaging.
Learn how medical answering service from MedConnectUSA can help your clinic or practice, and get a free quote to discover how affordable their critical communication services are. Peter DeHaan is a freelance writer and call center authority.