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Why Choose a HIPAA-Compliant Healthcare BPO !

As a Call Center Outsourcing Partner for Medical Services?

Does your healthcare practice use a voice over internet protocol (VOIP), a cloud telephony system to interact with patients, forward their calls, or answer calls? Or do your healthcare call center services cater to the healthcare vertical? In both cases, HIPAA awareness is critical for you.

This blog will elaborate on everything you need to know about HIPAA Compliance for your call center or telephonic communications.

What is HIPAA? 

Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 is a United States Legislation. HIPAA offers data privacy and security for medical information’s safe and secure upkeep.

HIPAA act came into being after a series of data breaches in the healthcare industry caused by ransomware attacks and cyber attacks on healthcare providers and insurers.

What does HIPAA do?

It is an act that helps in safeguarding patients’ medical records and other personal information.

  • It protects the privacy of patients and gives them more control over their health information.
  • HIPAA act holds violators accountable, with criminal and civil penalties if they violate patients’ privacy rights.
  • It sets boundaries on the usage and release of health records.
  • Establishes safety guards for the confidential handling of health information.

What organizations must be HIPAA Compliant?

If you are a US-based healthcare provider, health plan, or healthcare clearinghouse, your business and everyone who handles your healthcare data must be HIPAA compliant. This includes your call center as well- wherever they may be located.

This denotes that if your call center is outsourced, you must hire A HIPAA-Compliant Healthcare BPO. Vigilant companies go one step further and make sure that all vendors working with the BPO are HIPAA compliant too.

This includes ensuring the healthcare BPO uses a HIPAA-compliant call center software provider

Firstly, HIPAA & Patient Phone Calls

HIPAA compliance changes the way you answer patient calls, store their information, and communicate important data. Your call center needs to encrypt and secure all patient data.

Secondly, HIPAA & Outbound Calls

Order of the FCC has clarified that if patients provide their telephone number to a healthcare provider, it can be considered express consent for telephone calls to be made if these calls are for:

  • Health checkup
  • Appointments and reminder
  • Provision of treatment
  • Test reports
  • Post-operative instructions
  • Post-discharge follow-up calls
  • Pre-registration information
  • Home healthcare information
  • Intimation on prescriptions

If you have prior consent, there are several other factors to ensure during outbound calls and text messages.

  • Every call made should be short and precise.
  • Your call center representative should provide their name and contact details to the patient.
  • Text messages sent to the patient must not exceed more than 160 characters.
  • The messages and calls must adhere to the plan limits.
  • Whenever you leave messages on answering machines, provide patients with a toll-free number to connect again.
  • Call center agents cannot call patients more than two-three times a week. Text messages can only be sent just once a day.
  • Text messages and calls cannot be charged to the client.

Thirdly, HIPAA and automated calls

A HIPAA-compliant healthcare BPO will need written consent from the patients to make outgoing calls to them through an auto-dialing device. For call center outsourcing for medical services adhering to HIPAA rules is a must.

Fourthly, HIPAA and verification of callers

HIPAA makes sure that maximum caution is maintained while releasing patient information over a telephone call. Call center agents need to identify if the person on the other end is truly the patient. For this, some pointers are outlined.

  • Request the patient’s full name and at least two other identifiers such as birth date, address, contact number, etc.
  • Request the most recent date of service or invoice number for billing queries.
  • If still, a doubt persists, call the patient back on their provided authorized number.
  • Requests to provide information to someone other than the patient must be made in writing on letterhead.

Fifthly, HIPAA and call recordings

Most healthcare businesses record patients using a hosted VoIP system. Under HIPAA compliance, all patient voice recordings qualify as PHI or Protected Health Information and are subject to privacy. If the patient does not give his/her consent to the call recording, it must not be made.

When you are opting for call center outsourcing for medical services, choose a call center or telephony solution that does not record patient calls by default but lets you switch off call recordings if required. This will help with both HIPAA and GDPR compliance.

Sixthly, HIPAA and text messaging

Doctors and pharmacists can continue to remind patients about their appointments or refills via SMS. Texts that fall under minimum required standards are allow. You need to follow some technical safeguards.

  • The text messages sent must not contain any personal identifiers.
  • The health information of patients should be accessible only to authorized users. Make sure that whatever software you use to send SMS can be accessed by a secure login system.
  • Data transmission must be encrypted so that it is unusable if intercepted.

Eighty, Ways to run a HIPAA Compliant healthcare call center

Healthcare companies that run a HIPAA-compliant healthcare BPO need to keep all the above-mention regulations in mind when managing patient’s health-relate communications: Below are summary HIPAA call center requirements:

  1. Ensure end-to-end data encryption: Secure all your patient data stored via encryption, so it is unusable if intercept by any public wi-fi or in case the device or the phone is lost or gets misplace.
  2. Secure with a strong pin-lock-Administrators in charge of the data should lock their devices using a strong pin code that cannot be easily cracked.
  3. Automating log-outs- Users should automatically log out from the device following inactivity for a stipulated time frame.
  4. Make sure that data cannot be copied and passed from any external network to any external device.
  5. Also, make sure that your texting solutions are secure and only provide access to only authorized people.
  6. Call recordings must be 100% secure and optional.
  7. Call center agents should be trainer to ensure consent and caller verification.

Always suggested that you use a cloud-based HIPAA-compliant solution as it needs no new servers, hardware, or any special software. It can be easily implemented within twenty-four hours for availing the secure and safe texting and call services.

Seventh, HIPAA-compliant call center software for the healthcare industry

HIPAA-compliant healthcare BPO is a CCAAS solution that is specially built to improve your patient experiences by minimizing call wait times, automating callbacks, and enabling multichannel interactions. Healthcare BPOs, Pharma call centers, and healthcare providers that have switched to cloud solutions have been able to double their productivity while lowering their total overhead cost of operations by nearly 50%.

Lastly, The Bottom line

Remember the patients or customers on the other side of the call consider your call center agents as an extension of your office. Strict adherence to HIPAA rules requires you to take a few additional steps while setting up a call center for your own or a client’s healthcare practice. Although, the hard work pays off with some unexpected perks too.

By adhering to the HIPAA guidelines, you can expect to cut down on your overhead costs and witness a surge in your healthcare business by safeguarding patients’ data and offering secure customer service. Call centers adhering to HIPAA guidelines have found it easier to streamline their daily workflow and offer better service to their customers.

It gives your business an edge above your market competitors as HIPAA-compliant data is considered secure by the customers and clients. Thus, it helps in offering better services to your customers by preventing a data breach.

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