Medical answering service businesses and HIPAA compliance

HIPAA, or the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA), was created to protect patients’ private and sensitive medical information. HIPAA doesn’t just apply to doctors — on the contrary, anyone who handles patient information must follow these regulations in order to ensure compliance. This includes insurance companies, certain government programs, and medical virtual answering services. It may seem like common sense to follow HIPAA, but in reality, HIPAA violations happen everyday. Of course, not all HIPAA violations are equal — most violations are mild and result from data management accidents and innocent mistakes. However, these violations can still turn into hefty fines and even lawsuits. Any HIPAA violation can turn into a serious issue for your medical practice, since it can also affect your reputation and make patients turn away from your care. If you outsource your telephonic customer service through a virtual answering service, it’s very important to make sure that you’re choosing a high-quality provider. Let’s discuss the relationship between medical answering service businesses and HIPAA compliance.

Why cheap call centers can be expensive

Unfortunately, HIPAA compliance isn’t strictly followed by all providers. Low-quality answering services often don’t comply with HIPAA regulations closely enough — and in some cases, they downright flout regulations and put their clients at risk. Keep in mind that if you outsource a service and your provider is found to be in violation of HIPAA, you could face the consequences yourself. When it comes to HIPAA violations, anyone who is associated with the guilty party could be at risk — which means that a cheap call center could end up costing you a lot more than just money. When privacy laws are disregarded, your entire medical practice could be put at risk, even if you were simply the hiring company. HIPAA violations can result in fines that can range between $50,000 and $250,000 and place your office under financial strain.

The importance of a high-quality call center

Unlike their low-quality counterparts, a great virtual answering service will make sure that all their operators are well-versed in HIPAA regulations before they start working with clients. As a result, you will be able to relax knowing that all patient phone inquiries are being handled by highly-skilled customer service professionals who know just what to do to keep data safe. Additionally, patients will have access to a better standard of care thanks to your new remote call center. Remote call center operators can handle many everyday tasks, such as scheduling appointments, setting up automated reminders, and answering general inquiries. These services can take a huge weight off your employees’ shoulders, giving them more time to focus on patients who visit your practice. By hiring a high-quality answering service, you will be working with operators who can handle these tasks while still maintaining patient confidentiality. In the long run, investing in a good call center service can help improve your reputation, maximize your efficiency, and increase patient satisfaction without the risk of HIPAA violations.  
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