Originally, call centers were facilities designed to handle large volumes of phone calls. Today, call centers have the technology to use multiple communication channels, include text messages, emails, social media messages, and live chat.
Businesses and organizations of all kinds use call centers. Call center staff may schedule appointments, promote products to potential customers, or provide customer support to current customers. Some call centers may focus on healthcare services, and those contact centers must comply with federal regulations governing healthcare communications, which means they must be HIPAA compliant. It’s crucial to understand HIPAA laws to understand how HIPAA laws affect and benefit contact centers.
What is HIPAA compliance?
The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) became law in 1996. HIPAA protects patients. Under HIPAA regulations, a person’s medical information can be disclosed if they know and consent. Otherwise, HIPAA regulations prevent medical staff from sharing information about that person’s condition. This is the basis of the law, but there are some variations when it comes to how the law applies to different healthcare service providers, such as a health insurance billing company, may have access to some data., such as a patient’s billing information.
Contact centers that are HIPAA-compliant have secure texting and communication platforms to protect medical data from unauthorized access. Access to the communication platform used on the electronic devices of authorized medical personnel can be locked remotely, ensuring sensitive data is protected from unauthorized access.
HIPAA compliance allows medical test images and reports to be attached to communications sent to physicians, which saves time. These messages issue delivery receipts, which means contact center staff don’t spend time unnecessarily following up to ensure staff received the messages.
Who benefits from HIPAA-compliant call centers?
Patients benefit from HIPAA-compliant contact facilities because these centers protect sensitive medical data from being disclosed to the wrong person. The patient’s boss, parent, or partner can’t call their health insurance call center and determine why they went to the doctor.
Contact centers that are HIPAA compliant have special consent to transmit medical information to medical staff who are on call. Patients benefit from this because it reduces their wait times, and it benefits physicians, who save time processing test results.
Medical clinics, medical offices, hospitals, medical testing facilities, and health insurance companies may use HIPAA-compliant contact centers. HIPAA compliance increases efficiency, which saves time. In some health situations, a prompt assessment could be the difference between life and death.
HIPAA compliance also saves money by reducing duplication of tasks and saving physicians time.
How does HIPAA compliance affect outbound call centers?
An outbound call center is a contact center that primarily places calls. Outbound call centers are often associated with telemarketing sites, where staff engage in telesales. The staff focus is placing outbound sales calls to potential customers. Outbound contact center staff use a predictive dialer to make calls, reducing dialing mistakes and preventing overlap between call center staff. In addition to telemarketing services, outbound call centers may handle payment collections and schedule appointments.
Medical outbound call centers may transmit patient information to medical staff. They must use approved technology to secure the information or materials they’re sending to prevent unauthorized access.
How does HIPAA compliance affect inbound call centers?
Inbound call centers are contact centers that primarily deal with inbound calls. Patients could place incoming calls to book appointments. Medical supply companies may call to promote their products or confirm an order. Medical staff may place inbound calls to confirm details about their schedule or patients they’ve been called in to treat. The call center agents must be familiar with HIPAA regulations and understand what type of information they’re allowed to provide, who’s authorized to access that data, and how that data can be transmitted. A call center agent should not disclose specific information about patients to sales staff. Still, they may confirm that a physician hasn’t received test results and resend a secure message to the physician with the test results attached.
HIPAA regulations protect patients from having their medical information shared without their knowledge or consent. Call centers that comply with HIPAA regulations can transmit some data to medical staff through secure communication channels, saving physicians time when treating patients. HIPAA compliance benefits patients and staff because it improves efficiency and saves staff time while ensuring that physicians have the information required to provide optimal patient care.