Important Tips For Protecting The Privacy Of Your Patients When Choosing An Answering Service For Your Medical Office

Technology Blog

In recent years, technological advances have significantly impacted the way that clients of many different industries expect to correspond with the companies with whom they need to communicate. However, an on-going concern continues to be protecting the privacy of clients, particularly when the communication relates to a health care situation. Therefore, when you are choosing an appropriate answering service for your medical facility, it is essential to consider the following concerns about patient privacy.

#1-Remember What Can Happen If Patient Privacy Is Compromised 

In 2013, the Canadian government was forced to admit that more than a million patients had their rights to medical privacy stolen as the result of that information being breached, despite the strong protections used in recent years to prevent that issue.  At least part of that disappointment was attributed to information being accessed by parties without any right to that information in the first place.

That information can obviously be used in a variety of harmful ways that include anything from identity theft to drug or insurance fraud. Since even a well-meaning answering service employee could cause a big problem, it is in everyone's best interests to be sure that all appropriate protocols are in place.   

#2-Verify That Electronic Communications Are Secure And Plan Accordingly

Electronic communications are obviously susceptible to being seen by the wrong people. Therefore, it is a good idea to be sure that the staff of the answering service has a system in place that limits access to patient information and that each employee is aware of the questions they can and should ask as part of a normal communication. For instance, contact information and the name of the doctor is obviously necessary, but documenting previous medical issues or even prescription refills are not always necessary. In addition, answering service staff should also be aware that confirming any information is rarely necessary, even if it is as simple as determining if the doctor got an earlier message.

The concerns exist because there have recently been issues in many industries with the fraudulent use of email and text messages that were then used to capture information. As a result, it is imperative to be sure that the answering service you will be working with has complied with the recommendations provided by the government for safeguarding the privacy of individuals. Specifically, it is best to be sure that there is someone who is accountable for all privacy issues and that only the information required to assist your patients be collected from callers. 

In conclusion, choosing the right answering service is no longer just a question of finding polite staff to answer the phone at all times of the day or night. Instead, the use of text messages and email has become increasingly important to many people. Since the staff at an answering service will often be given access to private health care information about your patients, it is best to consider the above information when choosing a new company to handle your after-hours communications.

Contact a business like Four Star Communications Inc to learn more.


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