Under HIPAA regulations, you are a covered entity (CE), and your answering service is your business associate (BA). This means that just as you ensure your staff follows the strictest of HIPAA guidelines, so too should your answering service. Though HIPAA training falls on them, you, as a covered entity, are responsible for their compliance. That’s why it’s critical to select a doctor answering service that takes HIPAA education seriously.
Here are the essentials when it comes to HIPAA training at your doctor answering service.
Each new hire at your doctor answering service must undergo HIPAA training before they answer any calls. This is essential.
Yet many answering services skip this step or fail to cover it adequately. This is most pronounced with answering services that don’t specialize in healthcare and will take on any new client, in any industry. For them, HIPAA is an afterthought if they even think of it at all.
That’s why it’s critical to select an answering service provider with an exclusive, laser focus on the healthcare industry. They understand HIPAA, comprehend the ramifications, and know how to fully teach it to their staff. This HIPAA training occurs in the initial instruction that each new employee receives before they answer a single call.
But this isn’t the end of HIPAA training. It’s just the beginning.
HIPAA regulations mandate that regular HIPAA training occurs. But they don’t specify what to cover, how long it should last, or how often it must occur. Many HIPAA consultants claim that annual training meets this requirement. However, yearly coaching falls short. The best practice is to conduct periodic HIPAA instruction each quarter.
Quarterly HIPAA training accomplishes two key objectives.
First, it reviews and emphasizes what has already been communicated. Without this reinforcement, there’s a risk that individual agent compliance could degrade over time. Quarterly reminders keep this from happening at your professional doctor answering service.
Next, quarterly training sessions focus on new developments and ever-changing HIPAA rules. Without these quarterly training meetings, staff could go a full year before learning about the latest developments and newest expectations.
Any answering service that serves the healthcare industry, should readily offer their medical clients a business associate agreement (BAA). A full-featured BAA is a customize contract with each healthcare provider that covers everything the doctor answering service does for them. This includes initial HIPAA training to their staff and quarterly follow-up HIPAA instruction.
Before you hire a doctor answering service, make sure they understand HIPAA and provide adequate education to all their staff. This includes initial HIPAA training for each new hire, as well as quarterly follow-up instruction to reinforce and update staff on HIPAA regulations.
Learn how medical answering service from MedConnectUSA can help your practice, clinic, or facility. Then get a free quote to discover how affordable their healthcare communication services are. Peter Lyle DeHaan is a freelance writer and call center authority.