Wednesday, November 2, 2011

HIPPA Compliance Should Be One Of Your Top Priorities When Choosing A Medical Receptionist System by Jim Peterson

Should you finally decide to acquire the services of a programmer or a patient management company to provide you with virtual medical receptionist software, there is one important thing you need to take to heart. Your virtual medical receptionist must comply with HIPAA.

What is HIPAA? HIPAA is the acronym for the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act and it is a law enacted by the U.S. Congress in 1996. This act is a set of regulations that work to combat waste, fraud and abuse in health care delivery and health insurance. HIPAA intends to improve to effectiveness and efficiency of the health care system.

Why should your virtual medical receptionist be HIPAA compliant? Well, over the last decade, the world has witnessed the accelerated increase of digital technology in health care. This means that along with the reduced overhead expenses on the part of medical practitioners and highly improved service quality, advanced and greater risks for disclosure of personal health information was likewise introduced.

HIPAA steps in on this regard to establish standards for privacy and security of personal health data. HIPAA compliance means that anything that can be used to identify an individual and any information shared with other health care providers including names, dates, zip codes, social security numbers, medical record numbers and more are protected.

Now it could be that the virtual medical receptionist software you're acquiring is integrated with an appointment scheduler that uses 3rd party services. These 3rd party services may be in the form of synchronization with mobile devices or smart phones or over the phone scheduling. If that is the case, then the virtual medical receptionist is not following HIPAA compliance. Since there is no guarantee that the patient's personal information will not be disclosed to someone else when you use mobile synchronization, then the service is considered to be non HIPAA compliant. Even 3rd party voice gateway systems, in this case automated phone appointment schedulers, are not HIPAA compliant.

Remember that sharing patient information to someone else, whether it is knowingly or unknowingly, is strictly prohibited by HIPAA. Failure to observe HIPAA compliance may put your accreditation at risk and damage your reputation as a medical practitioner. Non HIPAA compliance may also result to federal lawsuits, monetary penalties that range from $ 100,000.00 to $ 250,000.00 and imprisonment ranging from one to ten years.

So save yourself from future troubles caused by online appointment schedulers that use 3rd party services. Make sure that the virtual medical receptionist software you're paying for is HIPAA compliant.