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Got a busy healthcare practice and feeling overwhelmed with calls? Or perhaps you’re wondering how to scale your growing clinic? You might be thinking about medical answering services and wondering if they’re right for your practice. Let’s explore these services, how they manage HIPAA-protected health information, and how they can help you scale.

We’ll cover:

  • What a medical receptionist service can do
  • Why HIPAA compliance matters
  • What to look for in a HIPAA-compliant receptionist team
  • How the right service can support you

When you choose the right service, you’ll be free to scale up your practice and focus on the work you love. Ultimately, a trustworthy, HIPAA-compliant receptionist team can help you:

  • Increase patient satisfaction
  • Reduce pressure on you and your staff
  • Save time
  • Save money

What is a medical reception service?

female receptionist on a call

A medical reception service takes the weight off your practice by handling the phones. For example, you could get support at busy times like Monday mornings or holidays. Or, you could use them to cover evenings and weekends or give your patients a 24-hour helpline.

Medical reception teams can support you and your patients in several ways, including: 

  • New patient intake
  • Appointment scheduling
  • Patient reminders 
  • Nurse triage
  • After-hours calls
  • Fielding FAQs
  • Website chat support

They can even work within your appointment management system. That way, your virtual receptionist is truly integrated into your practice with no need to work across multiple calendars or software. 

Why is HIPAA compliance important? 

Finding a HIPAA-compliant answering service is crucial to protect patient data and health records. As you likely know, HIPAA applies to any medical service operating in the US — from doctors to dentists, to therapists and chiropractors, and everything in between. 

We’ll go over what HIPAA means, but here’s the good news: when you use an answering service, you can be confident that patient information is protected and your practice isn’t at risk. 

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) was put into place to protect patients’ privacy by ensuring their medical information stays confidential. HIPAA requires all healthcare providers to handle patient data carefully and securely.

The law mainly aims to safeguard individuals’ “protected health information” (PHI) from being used or disclosed without consent. PHI can include anything related to someone’s past, present, or future physical or mental health condition, such as:

  • Diagnoses or treatments
  • Test results 
  • Health plans
  • Communication between doctors and patients
  • Prescriptions
  • Treatment payment history

Importantly for modern practices, it also applies to any providers who electronically transmit HIPAA-protected health information and their business associates. 

What should you look for in a HIPAA-compliant answering service?

So it’s clear that a HIPAA-compliant receptionist service isn’t just a nice to have – it’s crucial to protect you and your patients. Let’s go over what to look for in a receptionist service to check they’re meeting their responsibilities.

Securing call data

Your medical answering service should store all call data securely using encryption and password protection. These measures ensure that only authorized people can access call data, and no one can inadvertently access HIPAA-protected health information they aren’t permitted to view.

Protecting messages

Similarly, written messages from or about patients must be properly encrypted and protected. This is especially important when individually identifiable health information is transmitted electronically.

Physical precautions

As well as secure digital protections, your answering service should confirm that information is protected physically, too. Security measures should include limited facilities access, regulated workstation access, and restrictions on what team members bring to work.

Training receptionists

Every receptionist on your virtual answering service team must be trained and certified in HIPAA protocols. This means they know how to handle patient data securely and understand common HIPAA breach scenarios and how to avoid them. Ultimately, they need to know what HIPAA expects of them. Training should be regular, clearly documented, and up-to-date.

Tracking logs

The HIPAA privacy rule also gives patients the right to see or get a copy of their health records at any time. Your medical answering service should keep detailed logs of their work as proof of compliance and a record for patients to access when they wish. 

As you can see, your medical receptionist service should be able to prove:

  • Their training and certificates all in order
  • They’re using appropriate digital and physical security
  • They’re HIPAA-compliant across every touchpoint

How can a HIPAA-compliant receptionist service help me?

So we’ve covered why choosing a HIPAA-compliant answering service is critical for keeping your patients and practice safe. Let’s talk more about how a receptionist team can help you scale.

Reduce hold times

Caring for your patients starts from the first time they pick up the phone. With extra support from a receptionist service, you know your medical receptionist will answer every call quickly and warmly.

Maximize efficiency

When your calls are handled and actioned by a professional medical receptionist, you get more time to grow your practice and spend one-on-one time with patients.

And with appointment reminders and careful scheduling, you’ll save time and money on missed appointments and maximize efficiency in your practice’s schedule. Ultimately, you’ll pass those savings on to your patients in the outstanding service they’ll get from you.

Give your patients 24/7 support

With evening, weekend, and holiday cover, your patients will always get real care from real people. Health emergencies can come at any time. You need the peace of mind that your receptionist team is always on hand to give your patients a positive, helpful experience.

Build patient trust

Interacting with your practice could be a life-changing moment for a patient. A warm, human voice on the phone is critical to building patient trust and answering questions with knowledge and care. 

Key reasons to use a HIPAA-compliant receptionist service

Overall, support from a trustworthy receptionist team will give you higher patient satisfaction, less pressure on you and your staff, and lower costs. Finding a HIPAA-compliant service is crucial: you’ll know that your patient data is handled properly, appropriate security measures are in place, and the risk of HIPAA violations is reduced for your healthcare business. 

If you’re looking for a HIPAA-compliant receptionist team, WellRecieved could be a good fit. Look through our services here, and don’t hesitate to get in touch with any questions.

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Marcus Goodyear

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