Since 1979, Direct Line has been providing 24 hour live answering services for medical professionals and hospitals. Even though we’ve expanded our reach into other industries, we’ve learned that most of our medical clients generally have the same requirements which are to ensure patient satisfaction, HIPAA compliance and PHI security.
This article addresses the top five (5) requirements doctor’s have for a HIPAA compliant answering service.
Trained Call Agents
Part of the decision-making process for determining which HIPAA Compliant Medical Answering Service to use is uncovering how prospective call agents are trained. We understand that doctors require highly trained operators that are familiar with the medical industry and who know how to build rapport with callers through the delivery of accurate, responsive and compassionate service.
The unfortunate part here is that there are way too many answering services out there that have new hires taking calls on their first day of work. This can be disastrous for a medical practice since new agents typically haven’t received the appropriate training and if they’re taking any kind of medical call it will surely increase the risk for a HIPAA breach.
When researching doctor’s answering services, be sure to get detailed examples of training protocols. One of the biggest differentiators between a great answering service and average one is the adherence to a specific set of industry standards for call taking. We’ve successfully implemented a twelve week blended training program that encompasses class room style teaching and live practical application. This program is based on of the Association of Tele Services International standards that include a 19-point checklist that ensures quality control and quality assurance for all types of medical practices.
Ensuring HIPAA Compliance
The best way to remove the risk of a HIPAA violation is to ensure patient privacy. Patient privacy is critical and regulated by the federal government through the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act.
An effective HIPAA compliance messaging solution is using what’s known as Secure Interactive Messaging or SIM. SIM is a technology platform that medical practitioners find useful for receiving patient information that doesn’t expose Protected Health Information.
Think of it as a message notification system. It works like this; the doctor receives a text/email notifying them that they have a message waiting. This text/email has an embedded link included in the notification. They open the link, enter their username and password and now they’re able to view the message via a secure server and PHI is completely protected.
It’s important to prepare your medical office(s) for unexpected disasters such as earthquakes, power outages, flooding, etc. The reality is if you aren’t able to open your doors due to unforeseen circumstances, your answering service quickly becomes a life line between your office, your patients and your staff.
All you’d have to do is contact your answering service provider and have them update your account script with the information you want operators to tell your callers. This information should be able to be changed and updated within seconds.
Here’s a great example of an effective answering service/call center business continuity plan that is sure to support your practice in the event of a disaster.
Increase in Patient Satisfaction
When you streamline patient communications by using a 24 hour live medical answering service, you’re able to reduce the amount of time that patients spend waiting for their appointments and/or time spent on hold waiting for you to answer.
This allows patients to reach your office at any time during the day or night. They’ll be so happy that your office is the one that provides them with the prompt and responsive service they want and will thank you by recommending your practice to their friends and family.
As a medical professional, accuracy can mean the difference between life and death, so when you’re thinking about hiring a doctor’s answering service you’ll definitely want to require the same level of accuracy and detail you would give to your patients.
Professionally certified medical Call Agents, such as those here at Direct Line, will gather incoming information accurately, quickly and confidentially and in accordance with your specific call instructions.
When shopping around for services, be sure to determine the type of telephony system your potential answering service provider uses. You’re definitely going to want to ensure that whatever system they use that it can automatically identify which call instructions to follow, whether it’s for a consultation, new patient/referral intake, insurance inquiry, urgent need or a request for a specific service you provide.
As you can see, these are pretty straightforward requirements but they’re extremely important for any type of medical practice. Here is a great tool to assist you during your vetting process as you seek out the best medical answering service for your practice.
Call us today at 888-365-2424 and learn how our award-winning medical answering service can assist you with HIPAA compliance.