STAY HIPAA COMPLIANT WITH VOIP


The healthcare industry is one that is embracing and enjoying the advantages of modern technology. With VoIP, the exchange of information has never been easier for medical clinics. There's no doubt that this service is very convenient as it allows clinics the ability to remotely communicate and gain access to shared patient data, anywhere and anytime. However, there are security risks concerning Protected Health Information (PHI). In order to avoid unpleasant hassles and penalties, it is important that you understand how HIPAA applies to your VoIP service.  

WHAT IS HIPAA

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) is an act that sets the standard for protecting sensitive patient data. It ensures the privacy and confidentiality of patients’ records. Compliance with the HIPAA is mainly for health care industries like hospitals, clinics, and individual practitioners. As we all know, they all deal with personal data that is constantly in need of protection. This, however, does not mean that other industries are not subjected to the HIPAA. The HIPAA compliance act extends additional requirements to business associates. Your VoIP provider is considered to be your business associate since they'll also be dealing with your patients’ PHI. Your provider is required to sign the HIPAA compliance Business Associate Agreement (BAA). This will provide you with the peace of mind that comes with knowing your VoIP provider is also compliant with the HIPAA. The VoIP system provides a lot of benefits like using your smartphone to send automated messages, capturing patients' information, sending appointment reminders, filling empty seats, etc. All of these benefits offered by VoIP help make your business become more successful. You'll have the ability to enjoy the advantages of keeping and transmitting protected information in a digital form, best known as electronic PHI (ePHI).  

WHY IS IT IMPORTANT TO HAVE A HIPAA COMPLIANT VOIP PROVIDER?

Typically, doctors send information that is not stored in digital forms before transmitting them through communication channels such as fax, voicemail, or voice call. There is a misconception among them as to why this kind of information exchange shouldn't be transmitted over electronic media. Based on this, they may rightfully ask: "Why is it important to be HIPAA compliant?" The fact here is that VoIP is no longer about calls only. VoIP providers have designed the best-in-class solutions for healthcare than any industry professional can ever imagine. Nowadays, VoIP not only enables phone calls and chats between medical staff but also allows them to collaborate with each other on a real-time basis, leave voicemails, record calls, etc. This means a huge amount of information is being converted into electronic data. All this information is stored for longer periods of time thereby giving rise to concerns about security and confidentiality of ePHI. In order to keep yourself away from all these hassles and headaches, switch to a hundred percent compliant VoIP provider.  

HOW CAN VOIP HELP TO STAY HIPAA COMPLIANT?

Here, we have compiled the required features your HIPAA compliant VoIP provider should offer in order to protect your data privacy and accessibility: 1. Authentication - A third party over the line was a big problem in the ‘80s and ‘90s. Although call lines are more secure now, they still need extra layers of security as they can still be tapped. Most especially in the terms of healthcare, it is crucial to keep communication safe from unauthorized persons. Therefore, you will not only need a person that has an office authentication, but also authenticated phones that provide unique user IDs. 2. Access Control - As we all know, a VoIP system enables users to access personal data from anywhere. Therefore, it is important to categorize users for the provision of additional access privileges like passwords, data encryption, and a secure network. 3. Audit Control - All the activities of authenticated users must be recorded in case of future reference. However, only preselected users will have access to those records.  4. Encryption – This is to ensure the end-to-end encryption security of transmitted data. This is why choosing a reliable provider with powerful servers is important; you’ll be able to secure your data from cyber-attacks. For not being HIPAA compliant, you may face strict penalties of up to 1.5 million dollars, or worse still, exclusion from the medical industry. Therefore data security should be your number one priority, not just a one-time certification. Make sure your data is safe and sound by choosing the best provider who will constantly think about the security of your data instead of you.