The Importance of HIPAA Compliance in the Call Center Environment
Data breaches are a common occurrence, especially in the health care industry. In addition to the cost of the investigation and mitigation, they can result in costly settlements and corrective action plans. Any organization that is involved in transmitting patient medical information, then, must follow HIPAA regulations in order to avoid these non-compliance ramifications.
What Does HIPAA Cover?
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was passed by Congress in 1996 to protect an individual’s health information with confidential handling at all times. It requires health care providers and organizations and their business associates to ensure the security of protected health information (PHI) when it is transferred, handled, or shared. The act also regulates industry-wide standards for health care information on electronic billing and other processes. This has led to a reduction in health care fraud and abuse cases by enforcing these standards.
On a broad scale, HIPAA defines who should have access to certain medical information, which is increasingly important in the digital era where information can be rapidly and widely shared.
The Compliant Call Center
With privacy violations and silent background data collection becoming more prevalent, HIPPA-compliance is more important than ever for anyone who is transmitting personal medical information. Security measures must be in place to protect PHI at both the central and any remote locations, including the transfer of data between them. Since non-compliance with HIPAA can be a very costly endeavor, healthcare organizations and providers using a call center for their business needs will want a completely compliant call center.
Every call must include accurate information, be secure, and handled professionally. For example, in the case of a medical answering service, a call center must have representatives that are able to handle many different types of calls and provide multilingual options to relay and capture accurate information.
How to Evaluate Compliancy
There are several ways to determine if a call center is HIPAA-compliant:
- Staff should be continually trained in HIPAA compliance as it is constantly being updated. If the call center does not adhere to the most recent changes, the healthcare facility and the call center can be subject to fines and lawsuits.
- All data should be encrypted, especially PHI information sent by email or cell phone which are often open to data interception. Data encryption will transform the information to make it indecipherable to anyone who is not authorized to have access to it. This is the best way to prevent a security breach.
Healthcare providers and organizations should be able to screen the calls at any time to evaluate the call center for compliancy.
Compliance with HIPAA is necessary to every segment of healthcare, including call centers that deal with confidential information. A call center that is trained to handle this sensitive data ensures the protection of a medical facility as well as the security of their patients’ information.