When a home health care agency advertises having someone available to answer calls 24/7, it’s unlikely that you have your own nurses and aides answering overnight calls. Most agencies hire an answering service to help out. Before you hire on-call staffing services, it’s up to you to make sure you hire a HIPAA-compliant answering service.
Did you know that HIPAA violations can cost as much as $50,000 per violation? Whether they are accidental violations or willful ones, it gets costly. Willful neglect can lead to maximum penalties of up to $1.5 million a year. Plus, there’s the risk of class action and private lawsuits that can bankrupt you. Can your home health care agency afford that?
President Bill Clinton signed the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 (HIPAA) into law on August 21, 1996. The act helped ensure personally identifiable information remained secure to prevent identity theft and other fraudulent acts.
As an example, your agency possesses the medical records of all of your home health care clients. You must keep them secure. Your staff cannot share information about a client’s health without their permission. If you are clearing out old paperwork, you can’t just throw it into the paper recyclables. Old laptops must have the data destroyed.
Most importantly, any contractors you hire to answer phones must follow HIPAA laws too. If they’re on a mobile phone or VoIP line, security is essential. It’s your responsibility to ensure they understand and have strict protocols in place to maintain HIPAA compliance.
How Do You Tell If a Company Is HIPAA-Compliant?
How do you know if an agency is HIPAA-compliant? Ask about their training program. You want account associates who go through weeks of training to ensure they know how best to help you. This training program also needs to include HIPAA compliance training.
Even after training, the accounting associate should work under the supervision of a trainee supervisor. By having their work monitored until it’s certain the new associate knows everything about the job, there are no worries that mistakes are being made, which can lead to unintentional violations and fines.
Ensure Your Agency Is HIPAA-Compliant and You Have a HIPAA-Compliant Answering Service
Any home health care agency needs to be very careful that they’re taking every measure to protect a client’s privacy when sharing information, transmitting information to a doctor, or performing video check-ins. The same is true of any answering services you use to take calls and arrange home health care nurses and aides.
Make sure that your on-call staff knows the rules set forth in HIPAA. If you aren’t sure they are, it’s crucial that you ask. A HIPAA-compliant answering service is the best solution to ensuring that your agency works with responsive, dedicated HIPAA-compliant professionals.
If you are considering hiring a HIPAA-Compliant Answering Service that is dedicated to the senior care market, contact 24/7 Coastal Contact today at (251) 260-0226.
Let us show you how and why we are different from any other service you may have tried in the past. Our team approach is the standard that sets us apart from the rest.
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