What Is A HIPAA-Compliant Medical Answering Service?


Running a medical office can be stressful and challenging, even on the best of days.

Wouldn’t it be great to have someone to help you with the little things, like answering the phone, when you’re busy helping patients or filing charts? Of course there are plenty of commercial telephone answering services, but your patient data is delicate and has to be protected from the wider world.

When you find yourself in this very situation, it’s likely time to seek out a HIPAA-compliant answering service!

What a HIPAA-Compliant Answering Service Does

Unlike a traditional answering service, a medical answering service is designed with patients and medical staff in mind. In fact, these entities are specially trained in data security, they get the latest HIPAA requirements and they understand the delicate nature of patient privacy. These companies partner with doctors and medical professionals everywhere, providing a safe solution to call overflow and after-hours call answering. 

A HIPAA-compliant answering service isn’t like a traditional answering service, here are just a few of the differences:

Data security is number one. A traditional answering service doesn’t generally handle sensitive data, so it doesn’t have to worry too much about data security. When you ask someone to handle patient health information (PHI), the stakes are suddenly very high. Data security is the number one thought for HIPAA-compliant medical answering services. They make sure that data is protected, from basic security precautions like securing doors and file cabinets and shredding anything containing PHI, to much more advanced moves like maintaining protected email portals, performing regular login audits and using high end data encryption.

Training is ongoing. It doesn’t take an enormous amount of specialized training for someone to learn to answer the phone for a company that performs non-secure services like carpentry or house cleaning. When it comes to medical answering services, though, the training has to be ongoing because the laws regarding PHI security are always changing. Ongoing training is a great thing, ensuring that your patients’ health information is protected and the answering service professionals working for you are the best in their niche.

Software and hardware are frequently upgraded. A basic answering service doesn’t really need to perform frequent upgrades to stay on top of its game. But, when you’re in the medical answering service business, frequent upgrades of both software and hardware are a necessity to stay ahead of hackers and other threats to data security. The world of data security is evolving quickly, and so a HIPAA-compliant answering service should be seeking to always stay ahead of the competition.

Hiring a HIPAA-compliant answering service can solve a lot of your medical office’s woes. Not only will you know someone else can pick up the calls you miss, but you can also take comfort in the fact that the information that patient relays will be secure. Having someone who can field calls 24 hours a day, seven days a week will take a huge burden off your shoulders, allowing you to actually relax when you’re away from the office.

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